Jon Queally

Progressive Nina Turner earns July 4 endorsement of largest Ohio newspaper

Nina Turner, running for U.S. Congress in Ohio's 11th district, won the endorsement of the state's largest newspaper Sunday—the latest show of momentum for the progressive champion who has been targeted for defeat by the Democratic Party's more corporate-friendly establishment wing.

Citing the "pioneering civil rights legacy of the late U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes of Cleveland," who served constituents in the district that spans portions of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County for 15 terms from 1968 to 1999, the Cleveland Plain Dealer endorsed Turner on July 4th by saying she would be the best candidate to replicate Stokes' ability "to speak out for the rights, needs and interests of urban, largely poor constituents of color, too often neglected in the business of the U.S. Congress."

According to the paper's editorial:

Who best among the 13 Democrats on the Aug. 3 special primary ballot seeking the Democratic nod for this overwhelmingly Democratic district to carry on that legacy?

There is one person in this crowded field who has shown she isn't afraid to stand up to power and to partisan shibboleths, who has the guts to say what she thinks and do what's right for her constituents and country, who is passionate about public service and knows the issues, the personalities, the challenges better than anyone else in this race.

That person is Nina Turner.

The endorsement for the former state senator and national co-chair of Bernie Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign comes ahead of next month's special election to replace former Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, now serving as secretary for Housing and Urban Development in the Biden administration, and as establishment members of the party—including Hillary Clinton and Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina—have moved against her candidacy.


While the paper advised Turner that she should come closer "to the center," where the Plain Dealer claimed many Ohio voters in the district are, and urged her to be more "practical, not ideological," the endorsement ultimately said that the 11th District "doesn't need someone who will shrink into a corner of the Capitol once in office."

"Turner is the heavyweight in this primary race," the editorial continued, "compared with its other big fundraiser, Shontel Brown, 46, of Warrensville Heights. Brown is a pleasant but undistinguished member of Cuyahoga County Council who has little to show for her time in office..."

Turner welcomed the endorsement on Sunday.

"Today our movement received the endorsement of The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Thank you!" she tweeted. "We have an historic opportunity to deliver an agenda that puts working people at the center of our economy. To get there we need a Congress made up of leaders who never forget their purpose."

"Together," Turner continued, "we will deliver on an opportunity agenda that lifts our communities and builds an economy based on our shared prosperity, healthcare and education for all, living wages, a healthy planet, and fairness in our systems of policing and public safety."

Ocasio-Cortez: 'Elephant in the room' is Senate Democrats blocking their own party's agenda

New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave voice Sunday to the growing frustration among progressives due to Democratic Senators who have become the clear obstructionists in enacting the bold agenda they promised U.S. voters in last year's election.

Following a morning appearance on CNN's "State of the Union," Ocasio-Cortez said Democrats "have an obligation to do the most we can for working people, civil right, and the planet with the power people have entrusted us, and stressed during her television appearance that her side of the aisle should bend no further to the demands of a minority Republican Party that has a demonstrated history of acting in bad faith while making clear that defeating progress on key issues like infrastructure, healthcare, climate action, and pro-democracy reforms is its top priority.

Asked if she would possibly vote on the bipartisan infrastructure deal unveiled last week by a small group of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate—one that features just $580 billion in new spending, compared to the Biden administration's original $2.3 trillion package, and includes no new taxes—Ocasio-Cortez said, "I doubt it, frankly" as she highlighted the specific lack of climate action contained in the deal.

"I think one of the things that's really important to communicate is this isn't just $1.7 trillion," the congresswoman said. "This is about an overall investment spread out anywhere between eight and 10 years, which is a very, very low amount of money. It's not going to create the millions of union jobs that we need in this country, particularly to recover from the pandemic. And it's not going to get us closer to meeting our climate goals, which are crucially important at this point in time."

While CNN host Dana Bash pushed Ocasio-Cortez on whether she would vote for a compromised, watered-down infrastructure plan if progressives are told that's the best it's going to get, the New York Democrat responded, "Well, I think the thing is, is that this isn't the best that we can get." And then she turned her focus to Democrats like Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Jon Tester of Montana, and others in the caucus—who have refused to embrace a more bold and visionary set of policies in the name of compromise with the GOP.

"I do think that we need to talk about the elephant in the room," said Ocasio-Cortez, "which is Senate Democrats blocking crucial items in a Democratic agenda for reasons that I don't think hold a lot of water."

"And for folks saying, 'OK, where are you going to get these 50 votes?'" she continued, "I think we really need to start asking some of these Democratic senators where they plan on getting 60 votes. These 10 Republican senators that there is a theory that we're going to get support for that out there, I think, is a claim that doesn't really hold water, particularly when we can't even get 10 senators to support a January 6 commission."


Ocasio-Cortez went on to say that the U.S. is now at a "fork in the road" and asked the question: "Do we settle for much less and an infrastructure package that has been largely designed by Republicans in order to get 60 votes, or can we really transform this country, create millions of union jobs, revamp our power grid, get people's bridges fixed and schools rebuilt with 51 or 50 Democratic votes?"

"The argument that we need to make here," she said, "is that it's worth going it alone if we can do more for working people in this country. You know, with 50 votes, we have the potential to lower the age of Medicare eligibility, so that more people can be covered and guaranteed to their right to health care, as opposed to 60 votes, where we do very, very little, and the scope of that is defined by a Republican minority that has not been elected to lead."

After the bipartisan group put out a rough framework of its infrastructure deal last week, progressive lawmakers like Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) made clear they would oppose any bill that short-changed the climate crisis.

Asked Sunday about Manchin's stance in particular—including his opposition not only to filibuster reform and a bold infrastructure package but also his vow to block The For the People Act, the Democrat's key voting rights legislation—Ocasio-Cortez did not shy away from recent comments she made insinuating that the West Virginia Democrat's positions are due, at least in part, to his subservience to corporate interests and deep-pocketed funders like billionaire Charles Koch and his network of dark money groups.

"I believe that we have the influence of big money that impacts not just one party, but both parties in the United States Congress," she said. "And I do believe that that old way of politics has absolutely an influence in Joe Manchin's thinking and the way he navigates the body."

There's a reason, she said, that "the Koch brothers and associated organizations from the Koch brothers are really doing victory laps about Joe Manchin's opposition to the filibuster."

Watch the full interview:

Ocasio-Cortez accuses some Senate Democrats of blocking legislation



Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) criticized the Senate Democrats pushing for bipartisan compromise saying they are helping block key legislation in the D...

G7 judged a 'colossal failure' on climate and COVID-19 emergencies

Anti-poverty groups, climate campaigners, and public health experts reacted with outrage and howls of disappointment Sunday after the G7 leaders who spent the weekend at a summit in Cornwall, England issued a final communique that critics said represents an extreme abdication of responsibility in the face of the world's most pressing and intertwined crises—savage economic inequality, a rapidly-heating planet, and the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.

"This G7 summit will live on in infamy," declared Max Lawson, Oxfam's head of inequality policy, in a statement responding to the G7 communique at the conclusion of the weekend summit—a gathering characterized by the global progressive movement as an unmitigated disaster compared to what could have been achieved.

"Faced with the biggest health emergency in a century and a climate catastrophe that is destroying our planet," Lawson said, the leaders of the richest nations "have completely failed to meet the challenges of our times. Never in the history of the G7 has there been a bigger gap between their actions and the needs of the world. In the face of these challenges the G7 have chosen to cook the books on vaccines and continue to cook the planet. We don't need to wait for history to judge this summit a colossal failure, it is plain for all to see."

While the G7 statement vows to "[e]nd the pandemic and prepare for the future by driving an intensified international effort, starting immediately, to vaccinate the world by getting as many safe vaccines to as many people as possible as fast as possible"—and the member nations pledged a collective 1 billion doses will be donated to benefit middle- and low-income nations—public health experts have been adamant voluntary charity and empty rhetoric—especially in the the absence of a joint commitment to lift patent protections for life-saving vaccines at the World Trade Organization—makes clear the richest nations would still rather protect the profits of the pharmaceutical industry than serve the world's poor or see the pandemic eviscerated.


On Sunday, Global Justice Now executive director Nick Dearden—who has been on the ground in Cornwall throughout the summit—called the communique "shameful," a document that "stresses 'vaccines are a public good' and 'we need equitable access' while then reinforcing the intellectual property system which enshrines the very opposite principles."

"The G7 is not fit for purpose," Dearden tweeted. "They have operated without any concern for lives around the world—or even for our own ability to end this pandemic." Dearden said it was now clear that "profits first" is the true commitment of U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the other G7 leaders, and Global Justice Now suggested the only people who will be celebrating the bloc's lack of ambition will be Big Pharma and its allies:


Meanwhile, the G7's specific response to the climate crisis was seen as paltry, even if a modest step in the right direction. Thousands of climate activists demonstrated Saturday to demand the G7 leaders finally match their actions with some of their recent promises, but again the ambitions put forth Sunday by U.S. President Joe Biden, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, and the other powerful leaders was seen as more of the same kind of failure that has become all to familiar.

"This summit feels like a broken record of the same old promises," said John Sauven, Greenpeace UK's executive director. "There's a new commitment to ending overseas investment in coal, which is their piece de resistance. But without agreeing to end all new fossil fuel projects— something that must be delivered this year if we are to limit dangerous rises in global temperature—this plan falls very short."

The G7 plan touted by its members on Sunday, said Sauven, "doesn't go anywhere near far enough when it comes to a legally binding agreement to stop the decline of nature by 2030. And the finance being offered to poorer nations is simply not new, nor enough, to match the scale of the climate crisis."

Despite the G7 communique's new pledge to end future financing of coal projects worldwide and restating its Paris Agreement pledge to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 ºC by 2050, those promises fall intensely short of what the scientific community says is necessary to address the climate emergency.

"The G7 has now fallen squarely behind what leading economists, energy analysts, and global civil society has shown is required: an end to public finance for all fossil fuels," said Laurie van der Burg, senior campaigner for Oil Change International, on Sunday. "Our climate cannot afford further delay, and the failure of the G7 to heed these demands means more people impacted by the ravages of our climate chaos."

"Between 2017 and 2019, G7 nations spent $86 billion in public finance for fossil fuels," van der Burg continued. "Every single cent of that makes it harder to reach our climate goals. That's why more than one hundred economists as well as hundreds of civil society organizations from around the globe called on these leaders to end this public support for dirty fuels and shift this money to real solutions. Unfortunately those calls were not met with action, and our climate and communities—particularly the most vulnerable in the Global South—will feel the consequences."

Swedish climate activist and Fridays for Future co-founder Greta Thunberg also weighed in:


David Turnbull, Oil Change's strategic communications director, put specific emphasis on Biden's responsibility heading into the summit—his first overseas trip as U.S. President—and his failure to seize the historic moment or establish himself as a truly transformational leader on the global stage.

"Biden's first trip abroad unfortunately can be chalked up as a missed opportunity," Turnbull said. "Despite strong statements about ending U.S. international support for all fossil fuels in the first few months of his administration, President Biden has yet to turn those statements into true action. The G7 was a key moment to show that the U.S. can be a leader in moving the world forward on bold climate action, and unfortunately that leadership has not yet revealed itself."

The lack of funding for climate adaptation for poorer nations—those that have done the least to create the climate threat but suffer the most because of it—was also highlighted by Oxfam International.

"This plan could support green development in poorer countries," said Oxfam's climate change lead Nafkote Dabi, "but it is lacking in detail including on who will foot the bill. It also appears to champion infrastructure to reduce emissions, while many communities are screaming out for support to adapt to the impacts of climate change—an area that remains woefully underfunded."

Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, made the explicit connection between poverty, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the climate emergency.

"Everyone is being hit by Covid-19 and worsening climate impacts," Morgan said, "but it is the most vulnerable who are fairing the worst due to G7 leaders sleeping on the job. We need authentic leadership and that means treating the pandemic and the climate crisis for what they are: an interconnected inequality emergency."

"The solutions to the climate emergency are clear and available," she continued, "but the G7's refusal to do what's needed is leaving the world's vulnerable behind. To fight COVID-19, supporting a TRIPS waiver for a People's Vaccine is crucial. To lead us out of the climate emergency, the G7 needed to deliver clear plans to quickly phase out fossil fuels and commitments to immediately stop all new fossil fuel development with a just transition."

Where, she asked, "is the clear national implementation with deadlines and where is the climate finance so urgently needed for the most vulnerable countries?"

According to the global movement for climate action and a just solution to the pandemic, such things are not to be found in anything that came out of Cornwall over the weekend.

'Keystone XL is dead!': Climate movement secures major victory after 10-year battle

After more than a decade of grassroots organizing, agitation, and tireless opposition by the international climate movement, the final nail was slammed into the Keystone XL's coffin Wednesday afternoon when the company behind the transnational tar sands pipeline officially pulled the plug on its plans.

Following consultation with Canadian officials and regulators—including "its partner, the Government of Alberta"—TC Energy confirmed its "termination" of the project in a statement citing the revocation of a federal U.S. permit by President Joe Biden on his first day in office on January 20 as the leading reason.

Climate campaigners, however, were immediate in claiming a final victory after years of struggle against the company and its backers both in Washington, D.C. and Ottawa.

"TC Energy just confirmed what we already knew but it's a thrilling reality all the same—the Keystone XL pipeline is no more and never will be," said David Turnbull, strategic communications director with Oil Change International (OCI).

"After more than 10 years of organizing we have finally defeated an oil giant, Keystone XL is dead!" declared the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) in reaction. "We are dancing in our hearts because of this victory! From Dene territories in Northern Alberta to Indigenous lands along the Gulf of Mexico, we stood hand-in-hand to protect the next seven generations of life, the water and our communities from this dirty tar sands pipeline. And that struggle is vindicated."

IEN said that the win over TC Energy and its supporters was "not the end—but merely the beginning of further victories," and also reminded the world that there are "still frontline Indigenous water protectors like Oscar High Elk who face charges for standing against the Keystone XL pipeline."

Calling the news "yet another huge moment in an historic effort," Turnbull at OCI said that while the Canadian company's press statement failed to admit it, "this project is finally being abandoned thanks to more than a decade of resistance from Indigenous communities, landowners, farmers, ranchers, and climate activists along its route and around the world."

Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, declared the victory in the drawn-out battle—which largely took place under the Democratic administration of former President Barack Obama—"a landmark moment in the fight against the climate crisis."

"We need to keep moving away from dirty, dangerous pipelines that lock us into an unsustainable future," added Margolis, who said he now hopes President Joe Biden will take this lesson and apply to other polluting fossil projects. "We're hopeful that the Biden administration will continue to shift this country in the right direction by opposing fossil fuel projects that threaten our climate, our waters and imperiled wildlife," he said. "Good riddance to Keystone XL!"

Jamie Henn and Bill McKibben, both co-founders of 350.org and key architects of the decision to make the Keystone XL pipeline a target and symbol of the global climate movement, also heralded the news.

"When this fight began, people thought Big Oil couldn't be beat." —Bill McKibben, 350.org co-founder

"When this fight began, people thought Big Oil couldn't be beat," said McKibben, who was among those arrested outside the White House in 2011 protesting the pipeline.

"Keystone XL is now the most famous fossil fuel project killed by the climate movement, but it won't be the last," said Henn. "The same coalition that stopped this pipeline is now battling Line 3 and dozens of other fossil fuel projects across the country. Biden did the right thing on KXL, now it's time to go a step further and say no to all new fossil fuel projects everywhere."

Clayton Thomas Muller, another longtime KXL opponent and currently a senior campaigns specialist at 350.org in Canada, said: "This victory is thanks to Indigenous land defenders who fought the Keystone XL pipeline for over a decade. Indigenous-led resistance is critical in the fight against the climate crisis and we need to follow the lead of Indigenous peoples, particularly Indigenous women, who are leading this fight across the continent and around the world. With Keystone XL cancelled, it's time to turn our attention to the Indigenous-led resistance to the Line 3 and the Trans Mountain tar sands pipelines."

McKibben also made the direct connection to KXL and the decision now looming before Biden when it comes to Line 3 in northern Minnesota. "When enough people rise up we're stronger even than the richest fossil fuel companies," he said. "And by the way, the same climate test that ruled out Keystone should do the same for Line 3."

Economic devastation from climate crisis will be like two COVID pandemics per year by 2050: analysis

New research by global insurance giant Swiss RE warns that the looming devastation of runaway greenhouse gas emissions and the climate crisis could result in economic retractions twice as potent as the global recession unleashed by Covid-19—a calamity, unlike the pandemic, which could go on for many years without end.

Analyzing the figures compiled in a research report (pdf) by Zurich-based Swiss RE, Oxfam International said while the world's poorest nations will be hardest hit, even the rich nations—like those of the G7 meeting this week in the United Kingdom—will not be spared from the economic pain that will come if world temperatures rise by 2.6ºC that some scenarios predict.

According to Oxfam, economies of the G7 nations could see an average loss of 8.5 percent annually by the middle of the century―equivalent to $4.8 trillion―if more urgent action to address global warming is not taken immediately.

The international aid and anti-poverty group said this potential drop in GDP is double that of the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in an average 4.2% reduction among G7 nations, recessions that resulted "in staggering job losses and some of the largest economic stimulus packages ever seen." But, Oxfam added, "economies are expected to bounce back from the short-term effects of the pandemic, the effects of climate change will be seen every year."

The devastation for poor nations would be enormous.

"The economic turmoil projected in wealthy G7 countries is only the tip of the iceberg: many poorer parts of the world will see increasing deaths, hunger and poverty as a result of extreme weather," said Max Lawson, head of Inequality Policy at Oxfam, in a statement. "This year could be a turning point if governments grasp the challenge to create a safer more liveable planet for all."

As the group's analysis notes:

  • India could lose 27% from its economy.
  • Australia, South Africa and South Korea are projected to lose 12.5, 17.8 and 9.7% respectively.
  • The Philippines is projected to lose 35%
  • Colombia is projected to lose 16.7%

Jerome Haegeli, a chief economist at Swiss Re involved with the research, told the Guardian that: "Climate change is the long-term number one risk to the global economy, and staying where we are is not an option—we need more progress by the G7. That means not just obligations on cutting CO2 but helping developing countries too, that's super-important."

The research from Swiss RE, as Oxfam details,

modelled the economic impacts of climate change on 48 countries in four different temperature paths and used different impact scenarios to account for the large parameter uncertainty and missing climate impact channels usually present in the climate economics literature. The projections used in this press release assume high stress factors and global warming of 2.6°C by mid-century, which is a level of warming that could be reached based on current policies and climate pledges from all countries. All figures relate to real GDP. The GDP projections compare a warmer world with a world unaffected by climate change.

Ahead of the G7 summit in the U.K., global climate campaigners have continued to urge the world's richest and most powerful nations—also its largest emitters—to not only commit to stronger pledges on reducing fossil fuel pollution, but to increase their financial pledges to the developing world that have contributed far less to the climate crisis but continue to face its most devastating impacts.

Bill Gates comes under fire after comments on the global vaccine shortage

Bill Gates, one of the world's richest men and most powerful philanthropists, was the target of criticism from social justice campaigners on Sunday after arguing that lifting patent protections on Covid-19 vaccine technology and sharing recipes with the world to foster a massive ramp up in manufacturing and distribution—despite a growing international call to do exactly that—is a bad idea.

Directly asked during an interview with Sky News if he thought it "would be helpful" to have vaccine recipes be shared, Gates quickly answered: "No."

Asked to explain why not, Gates—whose massive fortune as founder of Microsoft relies largely on intellectual property laws that turned his software innovations into tens of billions of dollars in personal wealth—said that: "Well, there's only so many vaccine factories in the world and people are very serious about the safety of vaccines. And so moving something that had never been done—moving a vaccine, say, from a [Johnson & Johnson] factory into a factory in India—it's novel—it's only because of our grants and expertise that that can happen at all."

The reference is to the Serum factory in India, the largest such institute in the country, which has contracts with AstraZeneca to manufacture their Covid-19 vaccine, known internationally as Covishield.

The thing that's holding "things back" in terms of the global vaccine rollout, continued Gates, "is not intellectual property. It's not like there's some idle vaccine factory, with regulatory approval, that makes magically safe vaccines. You know, you've got to do the trial on these things. Every manufacturing process needs to be looked at in a very careful way."

Critical advocates for robust and immediate change to intellectual property protections at the World Trade Organization when it comes to the Covid-19 vaccines, however, issued scathing indictments of Gates' defense of the status quo.

Nick Dearden, executive director of Global Justice Now, one of the lead partner groups in an international coalition calling for WTO patent waivers at a crucial meeting of the world body next month, characterized Gates' remarks—and the ideological framework behind them—as "disgusting."

"Who appointed this billionaire head of global health?" asked Dearden. "Oh yeah, he did."

Journalist Stephen Buryani, who on Saturday wrote an in-depth Guardian column on the urgent need for the patent waivers and technology sharing, offered a similarly negative view of the billionaire's "awful" arguments against sharing the vaccine technology.

Gates, charged Buryani, "acts like an optimist but has a truly dismal vision of the world."

During the Sky News interview, Gates said it was "not completely surprising" that the richest nations like U.S., U.K., and others in Europe vaccinated their populations first. He said that made sense because the pandemic was worse in those countries, but said he believed that "within three or four months the vaccine allocation will be getting to all the countries that have the very severe epidemic."

Watch the full interview:

COVID-19: Bill Gates hopeful world 'completely back to normal' by end of 2022 www.youtube.com

Offering his interpretation of what Gates was actually throughout the interview, Buryani paraphrased it this way: "We can't make more vaccines, we can't compromise profits, we can't trust poor countries with our technology, and they'll get their scraps after we eat."

"The poverty of vision from [Gates] and other 'leaders' has been astounding," added Buryani. "Smallpox, Polio, both had joined-up responses that shared knowledge and technology across the world. We're happy to let the *pharma* market sort out the biggest crisis of our lifetimes. Totally on autopilot."

While public health experts agree that developing nations may not have the current know-how or capacity to produce advanced vaccines at scale, they argue that is also the result of policy choices that governments and others have made. Earlier this month 66 organizations called on the U.S. to initiate a global vaccine manufacturing program that, in tandem with patent waivers and recipe sharing, would pave the way for ramped up capacity.

"The U.S. government has helped produce hundreds of millions of vaccine doses for people living in the U.S., on a relatively short timeline. The same is needed—and within reach—for all countries," said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen's Access to Medicines program, at the time. "The key missing ingredient is ambitious political leadership, to end the pandemic for everyone, everywhere."

Meanwhile, in a detailed online social media thread earlier this month, journalist and activist Cory Doctor stated that while numerous "people helped create our 'Vaccine Apartheid,' the single individual who did the most to get us here is Bill Gates, through his highly ideological 'philanthropic' foundation, which exists to push his pitiless doctrine of unfettered monopoly."

Doctorow also pointed people to a feature in The New Republic by Alexander Zaitchik earlier this month which details Gates has long used his "hallowed foundation" and position as the "world's de facto public health czar" to defend the intellectual property regime that is now central to the fight between those defending "Vaccine Apartheid" on the one hand and international campaigners fighting for a "People's Vaccine" that would unleash the life-saving inoculations from their corporate masters in the pharmaceutical industry.

According to Zaitchik:

In April [of 2020], Bill Gates launched a bold bid to manage the world's scientific response to the pandemic. Gates's Covid-19 ACT-Accelerator expressed a status quo vision for organizing the research, development, manufacture, and distribution of treatments and vaccines. Like other Gates-funded institutions in the public health arena, the Accelerator was a public-private partnership based on charity and industry enticements. Crucially, and in contrast to the C-TAP, the Accelerator enshrined Gates's long-standing commitment to respecting exclusive intellectual property claims. Its implicit arguments—that intellectual property rights won't present problems for meeting global demand or ensuring equitable access, and that they must be protected, even during a pandemic—carried the enormous weight of Gates's reputation as a wise, beneficent, and prophetic leader.
How he's developed and wielded this influence over two decades is one of the more consequential and underappreciated shapers of the failed global response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Entering year two, this response has been defined by a zero-sum vaccination battle that has left much of the world on the losing side.

Quoted in the piece is James Love, founder and director of Knowledge Ecology International, which studies public policy and intellectual property as it intersects with public health and the drug industry. Love explains just how powerful the influence of Gates and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been in curtailing the conversation around I.P. and vaccines.

"If you said to an ordinary person, 'We're in a pandemic. Let's figure out everyone who can make vaccines and give them everything they need to get online as fast as possible,' it would be a no-brainer," Love told TNR. "But Gates won't go there. Neither will the people dependent on his funding. He has immense power. He can get you fired from a U.N. job. He knows that if you want to work in global public health, you'd better not make an enemy of the Gates Foundation by questioning its positions on I.P. and monopolies. And there are a lot of advantages to being on his team. It's a sweet, comfortable ride for a lot of people."

Back at the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020, said Love, "Things could have gone either way, but Gates wanted exclusive rights maintained." That, argues, was crucial in terms of what has happened since.

As Doctorow also suggests in his exploration of the issue, the fix was in from the beginning in terms of intellectual property and the Covid-19 pandemic and nobody should take seriously Gates' argument that there's simply not enough time to make lifting patent protections a priority at this point.

"Having sabotaged the efforts by poor countries to engage in the kind of production ramp-up the rich world saw as vaccines were being developed, it may NOW be too late," tweeted Doctorow. "Because of my bad ideas THEN, it's too late NOW."

Share vaccine recipes with poor during pandemic? One of world's richest men says 'no'

Bill Gates, one of the world's richest men and most powerful philanthropists, was the target of criticism from social justice campaigners on Sunday after arguing that lifting patent protections on Covid-19 vaccine technology and sharing recipes with the world to foster a massive ramp up in manufacturing and distribution—despite a growing international call to do exactly that—is a bad idea.

Directly asked during an interview with Sky News if he thought it "would be helpful" to have vaccine recipes be shared, Gates quickly answered: "No."

Asked to explain why not, Gates—whose massive fortune as founder of Microsoft relies largely on intellectual property laws that turned his software innovations into tens of billions of dollars in personal wealth—said that: "Well, there's only so many vaccine factories in the world and people are very serious about the safety of vaccines. And so moving something that had never been done—moving a vaccine, say, from a [Johnson & Johnson] factory into a factory in India—it's novel—it's only because of our grants and expertise that that can happen at all."

The reference is to the Serum factory in India, the largest such institute in the country, which has contracts with AstraZeneca to manufacture their Covid-19 vaccine, known internationally as Covishield.

The thing that's holding "things back" in terms of the global vaccine rollout, continued Gates, "is not intellectual property. It's not like there's some idle vaccine factory, with regulatory approval, that makes magically safe vaccines. You know, you've got to do the trial on these things. Every manufacturing process needs to be looked at in a very careful way."

Critical advocates for robust and immediate change to intellectual property protections at the World Trade Organization when it comes to the Covid-19 vaccines, however, issued scathing indictments of Gates' defense of the status quo.


Nick Dearden, executive director of Global Justice Now, one of the lead partner groups in an international coalition calling for WTO patent waivers at a crucial meeting of the world body next month, characterized Gates' remarks—and the ideological framework behind them—as "disgusting."

"Who appointed this billionaire head of global health?" asked Dearden. "Oh yeah, he did."

Journalist Stephen Buryani, who on Saturday wrote an in-depth Guardian column on the urgent need for the patent waivers and technology sharing, offered a similarly negative view of the billionaire's "awful" arguments against sharing the vaccine technology.

Gates, charged Buryani, "acts like an optimist but has a truly dismal vision of the world."

During the Sky News interview, Gates said it was "not completely surprising" that the richest nations like U.S., U.K., and others in Europe vaccinated their populations first. He said that made sense because the pandemic was worse in those countries, but said he believed that "within three or four months the vaccine allocation will be getting to all the countries that have the very severe epidemic."

Watch the full interview:


COVID-19: Bill Gates hopeful world 'completely back to normal' by end of 2022 www.youtube.com

Offering his interpretation of what Gates was actually throughout the interview, Buryani paraphrased it this way: "We can't make more vaccines, we can't compromise profits, we can't trust poor countries with our technology, and they'll get their scraps after we eat."


"The poverty of vision from [Gates] and other 'leaders' has been astounding," added Buryani. "Smallpox, Polio, both had joined-up responses that shared knowledge and technology across the world. We're happy to let the *pharma* market sort out the biggest crisis of our lifetimes. Totally on autopilot."

While public health experts agree that developing nations may not have the current know-how or capacity to produce advanced vaccines at scale, they argue that is also the result of policy choices that governments and others have made. Earlier this month 66 organizations called on the U.S. to initiate a global vaccine manufacturing program that, in tandem with patent waivers and recipe sharing, would pave the way for ramped up capacity.

"The U.S. government has helped produce hundreds of millions of vaccine doses for people living in the U.S., on a relatively short timeline. The same is needed—and within reach—for all countries," said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen's Access to Medicines program, at the time. "The key missing ingredient is ambitious political leadership, to end the pandemic for everyone, everywhere."

Meanwhile, in a detailed online social media thread earlier this month, journalist and activist Cory Doctor stated that while numerous "people helped create our 'Vaccine Apartheid,' the single individual who did the most to get us here is Bill Gates, through his highly ideological 'philanthropic' foundation, which exists to push his pitiless doctrine of unfettered monopoly."


Doctorow also pointed people to a feature in The New Republic by Alexander Zaitchik earlier this month which details Gates has long used his "hallowed foundation" and position as the "world's de facto public health czar" to defend the intellectual property regime that is now central to the fight between those defending "Vaccine Apartheid" on the one hand and international campaigners fighting for a "People's Vaccine" that would unleash the life-saving inoculations from their corporate masters in the pharmaceutical industry.


According to Zaitchik:

In April [of 2020], Bill Gates launched a bold bid to manage the world's scientific response to the pandemic. Gates's Covid-19 ACT-Accelerator expressed a status quo vision for organizing the research, development, manufacture, and distribution of treatments and vaccines. Like other Gates-funded institutions in the public health arena, the Accelerator was a public-private partnership based on charity and industry enticements. Crucially, and in contrast to the C-TAP, the Accelerator enshrined Gates's long-standing commitment to respecting exclusive intellectual property claims. Its implicit arguments—that intellectual property rights won't present problems for meeting global demand or ensuring equitable access, and that they must be protected, even during a pandemic—carried the enormous weight of Gates's reputation as a wise, beneficent, and prophetic leader.

How he's developed and wielded this influence over two decades is one of the more consequential and underappreciated shapers of the failed global response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Entering year two, this response has been defined by a zero-sum vaccination battle that has left much of the world on the losing side.

Quoted in the piece is James Love, founder and director of Knowledge Ecology International, which studies public policy and intellectual property as it intersects with public health and the drug industry. Love explains just how powerful the influence of Gates and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been in curtailing the conversation around I.P. and vaccines.

"If you said to an ordinary person, 'We're in a pandemic. Let's figure out everyone who can make vaccines and give them everything they need to get online as fast as possible,' it would be a no-brainer," Love told TNR. "But Gates won't go there. Neither will the people dependent on his funding. He has immense power. He can get you fired from a U.N. job. He knows that if you want to work in global public health, you'd better not make an enemy of the Gates Foundation by questioning its positions on I.P. and monopolies. And there are a lot of advantages to being on his team. It's a sweet, comfortable ride for a lot of people."

Back at the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020, said Love, "Things could have gone either way, but Gates wanted exclusive rights maintained." That, argues, was crucial in terms of what has happened since.

As Doctorow also suggests in his exploration of the issue, the fix was in from the beginning in terms of intellectual property and the Covid-19 pandemic and nobody should take seriously Gates' argument that there's simply not enough time to make lifting patent protections a priority at this point.

"Having sabotaged the efforts by poor countries to engage in the kind of production ramp-up the rich world saw as vaccines were being developed, it may NOW be too late," tweeted Doctorow. "Because of my bad ideas THEN, it's too late NOW."

'Utterly disgusting': Big Pharma lobby blitz against vaccine patent waivers denounced

As campaigners worldwide continue their efforts to unleash live-saving vaccine patents and technology from the profitable control of major pharmaceutical corporations this week, new reporting by The Intercept details the "army of lobbyists" Big Pharma has aimed at U.S. lawmakers in order to kneecap the global push to lift intellectual property through a waiver at the World Trade Organization.

"We have multiple safe and effective vaccines, what we lack now is the political will to increase their supply and facilitate the distribution of these vaccines everywhere."
—Abby Maxman, Oxfam AmericaIn a story published Friday, journalist Lee Fang cites "newly filed disclosure forms from the first quarter of 2021" to reveal that "over 100 lobbyists have been mobilized to contact lawmakers and members of the Biden administration, urging them to oppose a proposed temporary waiver" of patent protections at the WTO—a push led by India and South Africa and backed by the World Health Organization, over a hundred nations, and public health experts and justice advocates worldwide.

According to Fang's reporting:

Pharmaceutical lobbyists working against the proposal include Mike McKay, a key fundraiser for House Democrats, now working on retainer for Pfizer, as well as several former staff members to the U.S. Office of Trade Representative, which oversees negotiations with the WTO.

Several trade groups funded by pharmaceutical firms have also focused closely on defeating the generic proposal, new disclosures show. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and the International Intellectual Property Alliance, which all receive drug company money, have dispatched dozens of lobbyists to oppose the initiative.

In response to the revelations, Heidi Chow, senior policy and campaign manager for the U.K.-based Global Justice Now, called the corporate lobbying blitz fighting against increased vaccine production "utterly disgusting and immoral" amid a global pandemic that has already claimed north of 3 million lives worldwide.

"Millions continue to die because pharma monopolies have created vaccine scarcity in the global south," tweeted Chow. "We need a #PeoplesVaccine."

Shailly Gupta, communications adviser to the Access Campaign with Doctors Without Borders, which advocates for a global system in which vaccine technology is made universally available to the world's poorest nations, also shared Fang's story as she bemoaned the "pandemic profiteering" it represents.


On Friday, as Common Dreams reported, Sen. Bernie Sanders led other U.S. lawmakers in Congress in a demand to the Biden administration to back the WTO waiver as they presented a petition signed by over 2 million people.

"We have the tools to save human lives, and those tools should be readily available to all people," said Sanders during an online event Friday. "Poor people in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and throughout the world have as much a right to be protected from the virus, to live, as people in wealthier nations. To me, this is not a huge debate, this is common human morality."

Abby Maxman, president and CEO Oxfam America and who also participated in the event, said, "We have multiple safe and effective vaccines, what we lack now is the political will to increase their supply and facilitate the distribution of these vaccines everywhere." President Biden, she urged, "must seize this historic opportunity to mobilize vaccine access to all by supporting the WTO proposal by South Africa, India, and others to temporarily waive intellectual property rights related to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments to encourage generic manufacturing in their own markets."

But even as the international movement for the WTO waiver has gained steam, including in the U.S., Fang reports how the effort "has encountered fierce opposition from leading drug companies, who stand to lose profit and who fear that allowing a waiver would lead to less stringent IP enforcement in the future."


In a column for The Guardian on Saturday, science and environmental writer Stephen Buranyi argues the intransigence of the wealthy nations "seems mind-bogglingly shortsighted." According to Buranyi:

The world desperately needs coronavirus vaccines. About 430m doses have been produced so far this year, enough for about 215 million people. And of the doses already given, about half have gone to the richest 16% of the world's population. Covax, the World Health Organization initiative to transfer vaccines to nations in need, has delivered just 38m doses. According to analysis by the Center for Global Development and the Economist, nations in the global south may not reach widespread vaccination until 2023.

The situation is dire, and we need more vaccines. At the moment, there is no worldwide joined-up effort to expand production. As incredible as it sounds, after all the public money that went into vaccine development, making and distributing them has been left entirely up to the market. Each company has its own—totally secret—recipes and supply chains, and they insist no other approach is possible.

But public policy experts like Dean Baker, co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), have endlessly explained that alternative approaches are both available and possible, but that Big Pharma interests continue to block the political pathway to achieving them.

"With the pandemic costing millions of lives around the world and costing our economies trillions in lost output," Baker wrote earlier this month, "we really should be asking whether the current system serves us well in producing vaccines, tests, and treatments. Incredibly, public debate is so dominated by the pharmaceutical industry and its allies that we are primarily seeing celebration of the system's dubious claims to success, rather than discussions of the ways in which system was and is failing us in addressing the pandemic."

As political activist Lauren Steiner tweeted in response to Fang's reporting, pharmaceutical giants who are blocking patent waivers that could save millions of lives and help bring a much faster and comprehensive end to the Covid-19 pandemic "should change their name from the health care industry to the death industry."

Arkansas GOP condemned for veto override that continues 'discriminatory crusade against trans youth'

Defenders of LGBTQ rights denounced Republican legislators in Arkansas on Tuesday for overriding a veto by Gov. Asa Hutchinson just a day earlier that had been seen as a hard-won victory for the trans youth and other gender nonconforming people in the state.

The final passage of HB1570, which would block doctors from providing gender-affirming care or referring patients for such care, came in the wake of sustained opposition to what the state ACLU chapter described as "one of the most extreme and harmful anti-trans bills in the country."

Champions of trans youth who had 24 hours earlier celebrated Monday's veto by Hutchinson denounced Tuesday's 71-24 vote in the state House and the 25-8 vote in the Senate—large enough majorities to override the governor's signature.

"This bill will drive families, doctors and businesses out of the state, and sends a terrible and heartbreaking message to transgender people who are watching in fear," the national ACLU tweeted immediately after the votes were announced.

While advocates expected the override, the vote was a major setback for those who had fought against it.

"Today Arkansas legislators disregarded widespread, overwhelming, and bipartisan opposition to this bill and continued their discriminatory crusade against trans youth," said Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director, in a statement after the vote.


Still, groups vowed to fight on.

"Trans youth in Arkansas: We will continue to fight for you," said the ACLU. "We will always have your back, and we'll be relentless in our defense of your rights."

The group added that it was already preparing litigation to combat the new law. "As we speak," they said.


"Attempting to block trans youth from the care they need simply because of who they are is not only wrong, it's also illegal, and we will be filing a lawsuit to challenge this law in court," Dickinson said. "We are hearing from concerned families all over the state who are afraid about the impact of this bill and others like it. We are committed to doing all we can to support these families and ensure they know how to continue to fight for their rights and get the care and resources they need."

'Democrats will lose in 2022': Anger Grows as Biden bows to un-elected parliamentarian on $15 minimum wage

After the Democrats in the House approved a far-reaching Covid-19 relief package early Saturday with all but two members of the caucus on board, progressive anger and despair escalated over the Biden administration's refusal thus far to make sure the $15 minimum wage increase remains in the bill as it heads to the U.S. Senate.

As journalist David Sirota, founder of the The Daily Poster and former staffer for the 2020 Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, put it on Saturday: "If you were writing a Dickensian novel, it would be about millions of desperately poor people being promised a $15 starvation wage, and then watching their millionaire senators tell them that a parliamentary adviser in the palace said no."

While Biden and his administration have made clear they will not move to use Harris' authority as presiding officer of the Senate to disregard or overrule the Parliamentarian's determination, the anger on the progressive left—both inside and outside of Congress—has only grown since Thursday.

Winnie Wong, political strategist and another Sanders campaign alumnus, said the choices for Biden and Harris are now quite stark and suggested the stakes are much higher than many top Democrats appear to understand or acknowledge:


On Sunday morning, the national advocacy and organizing group Women's March tweeted:


Addressing the issue Saturday morning on MSNBC, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Democrats have no choice but to "muscle it through" the Senate given the campaign promises made to voters leading up to last year's elections.

"We can't back to voters in two years," explained Jayapal, "and say, 'You know, we made you a promise—you delivered us the House, the White House, and the Senate—but a parliamentarian told us that we can't do it.'"


In a column on Saturday, The New Republic's Osita Nwanevu argued that there is simply nobody but Democrats themselves to blame for failure to include the $15 minimum wage increase in the Senate's Covid-19 relief package. "Not Republicans. Not the Senate parliamentarian. Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, and even Joe Biden are to blame for squandering their party's majority power," he wrote.

According to Nwanevu:

It has been written and said that the gambit failed because the Senate parliamentarian ruled that including the minimum wage increase would violate reconciliation rules. This is false: The Senate parliamentarian is a wholly powerless functionary who can be overruled at any time by the party holding the White House and Congress—both of which, as you might recall, are now controlled by the Democratic Party. The gambit failed because the White House and many Democrats in Congress opposed overruling the parliamentarian.

As Common Dreams reported Friday, a progressive coalition—including One Fair Wage, Women's March, People's Action, Center for Popular Democracy, and dozens of others—have sent a letter (pdf) to Biden and Harris and are cicrulating a petition demanding that the parliamentarian's guidance be disregarded so that the increase can be included in the Senate bill.

"As President of the Senate, Vice President Harris has the Constitutional power to disregard the recommendation of the Senate Parliamentarian and include this provision in the COVID relief legislation," the letter states.

Noting that the "vast bipartisan majority of Americans support" raising the wage, the groups tell Biden in their letter that he "simply must rise up for the communities who turned out in record numbers to elect him and support the Vice President in taking this action on behalf of his Administration."


While critics spent the weekend blasting the president and vice president for hiding behind the Senate rules, Nwanevu was among those who said an alternative path is clearly possible—if only Biden would fight.


"One thing Biden might have said to voters," wrote Nwanevu, "in any of the domestic policy speeches and public statements he's made over the past month, is that the minimum wage and other policies are more important than the Senate's rules and that the Senate's rules should be changed to pass them, potentially giving Manchin and Sinema, who do not really care about raising the minimum wage but do care about being reelected, an incentive to support raising the minimum wage and changing the Senate's rules."

Following the passage of the Covid-19 package in the House on Saturday, Ben Jealous, president of the People For the American Way, applauded the approval and said now it is time for the Senate to complete the job.

"It's clear why the Senate must pass this bill: families continue facing economic anxiety, unemployment claims are skyrocketing and people are behind on rent and facing household hunger," said Jealous. "Every element of this package is critically important and they must not be whittled down in the Senate. Therefore, we urge the administration and the Senate to do everything in their power to quickly pass the American Rescue Plan—including the $15 minimum wage increase—to ensure Americans get the help they need."

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) suggested there is no excuse for every single Democrat in the Senate not to get on board with the $15 wage that Biden vowed to pass throughout the election season last year.

"This issue of will there be the votes in the Senate on final package is pretty simple," Khanna said Saturday. "If progressives can compromise and rally around the EXACT package President Biden proposed, is it not reasonable to expect every elected Democrat to do that?" Khanna also appeared on CNN to discuss his position:


Late Saturday, Jayapal repeated her message that Senate passage must follow if Democrats want to fulfill the pledges they made to the American people. "First, we promised workers that we'd give them a long overdue raise. Then, the House passed a $15 minimum wage," she tweeted. "Now, the Senate must do everything necessary to urgently deliver."

"It's been 12 years since we've raised the minimum wage and 30 since we've raised the federal tipped wage," added Jayapal. "We can't keep kicking the can down the road as millions are pushed into poverty. In a crisis like this, working people need all the help we can provide. Let's deliver."

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