Sinwar, Deif, Haniyeh indicted for Genocide

THREE LEADERS of Palestinian Islamist group Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya have been indicted by ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan:

“On the basis of evidence collected and examined by my Office, I have reasonable grounds to believe that Yahya SINWAR (Head of the Islamic Resistance Movement (“Hamas”) in the Gaza Strip), Mohammed Diab Ibrahim AL-MASRI, more commonly known as DEIF (Commander-in-Chief of the military wing of Hamas, known as the Al-Qassam Brigades), and Ismail HANIYEH (Head of Hamas Political Bureau) bear criminal responsibility for the following war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of Israel and the State of Palestine (in the Gaza strip) from at least 7 October 2023:

•Extermination as a crime against humanity, contrary to article 7(1)(b) of the Rome Statute;

•Murder as a crime against humanity, contrary to article 7(1)(a), and as a war crime, contrary to article 8(2)(c)(i);

•Taking hostages as a war crime, contrary to article 8(2)(c)(iii);

•Rape and other acts of sexual violence as crimes against humanity, contrary to article 7(1)(g), and also as war crimes pursuant to article 8(2)(e)(vi) in the context of captivity;

•Torture as a crime against humanity, contrary to article 7(1)(f), and also as a war crime, contrary to article 8(2)(c)(i), in the context of captivity;

•Other inhumane acts as a crime against humanity, contrary to article 7(l)(k), in the context of captivity;

•Cruel treatment as a war crime contrary to article 8(2)(c)(i), in the context of captivity; and

•Outrages upon personal dignity as a war crime, contrary to article 8(2)(c)(ii), in the context of captivity.”

Historic impeachment of two judges

TWO judges were impeached in the House of Assembly today. The impeachment of Judge Nkola Motata for drunk driving came a few hours after Judge John Hlophe was impeached by the House. This is the first time in 30 years of democracy that any judges have faced impeachment proceedings, and brings to an end proceedings, after Motata was found guilty of drunk driving in 2009 when he crashed his luxury vehicle on a boundary wall of a house in Johannesburg in 2007.

The Hlophe impeachment was far more serious charges related to gross misconduct, the attempted influence over other judges.

Hlophe’s case started in 2008 when nine justices of the Constitutional Court (CC) laid a complaint against him, accusing him of attempting to influence Justices Chris Jafta and Bess Nkabinde in a case concerning former President Jacob Zuma. In the 15 years since, there has been numerous litigations on the part of both JP Hlophe as well as the JSC. In April 2021, a tribunal inquiry found Hlophe guilty of gross misconduct, a decision upheld by the JSC in August 2021.

The impeachment motion before Parliament may be considered a mere formality, but offered the respective judges an opportunity to enter politics, to canvass public opinion on their status.

Hlophe thus gave a number of fiery public speeches aimed at bolstering his position in the runup but in the end it was to no avail as both he and Motata went down in flames.

The motion against Hlophe succeeded with 305 votes.

June Media threads

These past weeks have seen several media items worth of our consideration. I flag them here to remind readers that Medialternatives still cares about these issues:

GLOBAL NEWS

BRICS Circus

President Ramaphosa made a bizarre trip to Ukraine and Russia, attempting to broker a peace deal, resulting in an incident in Poland, and then quickly superseded by the Wagner rebellion.

Putin may now skip the controversial BRICS summit.

Pundits like Patrick Bond are warning that an expanded BRICS would result in less influence for the country

LOCAL NEWS

IOL finds 10 news subs under the bed

The spat between IOL and Media24 appears to have escalated with two new inhouse opinion pieces criticising another company circulated widely on twitter by CEO Iqbal Surve. They are notable for the way in which they attack other daily press outlets, fail to acknowledge previous criticism by Medialternatives, and for their bizarre attempts to maintain a semblance of editorial distance. The latest piece published yesterday even carries the nom-de-plum of one ” J. Edwards” , apparently a person who “requests anonymity in order to prevent his/her writing from interfering with his/her regular responsibilities.”

Koos Bekker – Unveiling the elephant in the newsroom

Naspers and Media24 must face their apartheid legacy

Damning indictment of JSC in Judge Motata case

Mayor comes out in support of LGBT

An obscure political party demands removal of the Green Point rainbow crossing. But so did a larger party last year, the ACDP, the same picture was used in both stories.

EFF dragged over LGBT flipflop

Over 100 UCT staff and students signed a petition to stop the EFF Lumumba lecture

Olga Meshoe-Washington at the UN in Geneva

THE suffering of black persons in South Africa under its apartheid regime has become an antisemitic tool by which to delegitimize Israel, Christian pro-Israel activist and Johannesburg native Olga Meshoe Washington said on Monday.

“My people’s history and experience is being used as an antisemitic tool to politically, morally and with incredible pretzel-like twisting and legal gymnastics, legally delegitimize Israel with the hope to criminalize her.”

“We have propped up the morally and legally corrupt notions that Israel is guilty of apartheid, colonialization and genocide. To what benefit? Africa is now the global eye of terrorism and slavery is rampant in no less than 5 African countries, some of which have had a seat on the UNHRC.”

End Vaccine Apartheid Before Millions More Die

By Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram

SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 23 2021 (IPS) – At least 85 poor countries will not have significant access to coronavirus vaccines before 2023. Unfortunately, a year’s delay will cause an estimated 2.5 million avoidable deaths in low and lower-middle income countries. As the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General has put it, the world is at the brink of a catastrophic moral failure.

Vaccine apartheid
The EU, US, UK, Switzerland, Canada and their allies continue to block the developing country proposal to temporarily suspend the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement to enable greatly increased, affordable supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, drugs, tests and equipment.

Meanwhile, 6.4 billion of the 12.5 billion vaccine doses the main producers plan to produce in 2021 have already been pre-ordered, mostly by these countries, with 13% of the global population.

Thirty two European and other rich countries also have options to order more, while Australia and Canada have already secured supplies enough for five times their populations. Poor countries, often charged higher prices, simply cannot compete.

Big Pharma has also refused to join the voluntary knowledge sharing and patent pooling COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) initiative under WHO auspices. Thomas Cueni, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) Director General, snubbed the launch, claiming he was “too busy”.

Pfizer’s CEO dismissed C-TAP as “nonsense” and “dangerous”, while the AstraZeneca CEO insisted, “IP is a fundamental part of our industry”. Such attitudes help explain some problems of alternative vaccine distribution arrangements such as COVAX. According to its own board, there is a high chance that COVAX could fail.

Suppressing vaccine access
Despite knowing that many developing countries have much idle capacityCueni falsely claims the waiver “would do nothing to expand access to vaccines or to boost global manufacturing capacity”, and would jeopardise innovation and vaccine research.

Big Pharma claims manufacturing vaccines via compulsory licensing or a TRIPS waiver “would undermine innovation and raise the risk of unsafe viruses”. US Big Pharma representatives wrote to President Biden earlier this month claiming likewise.

Both Salk and Sabin made their polio vaccine discoveries patent-free, while many contemporary vaccine researchers are against Big Pharma’s greedy conduct only rewarding IP holders regardless of the varied, but crucial contributions of others.

Big Pharma’s price gouging
Vaccine companies require contract prices be kept secret. In return for discounts, the EU agreed to keep prices confidential. Nonetheless, some negotiated prices were inadvertently revealed, with a UNICEF chart listing prices from various sources.

Reputedly the cheapest vaccine available, Oxford-Astra Zeneca’s is sold to EU members for around US$2 each. Although trials were done in South Africa, it still pays more than twice as much, while Uganda, even poorer, pays over four times as much!

US negotiated bulk prices, for Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, are much higher, at US$15.25–19.50 per dose in several contracts, yielding 60–80% profit margins! Moderna will charge the rest of the world US$25–37 per dose.

Hypocrisy
Quite understandably, most developed countries opposing temporary TRIPS suspension have provisions in their own IP laws to suspend patent protection in the national interest and for public health emergencies.

Canada, Germany, France and others have recently strengthened their patent laws to issue compulsory licences for COVID-19 vaccines and drugs. European Council President Charles Michel announced that the EU could adopt “urgent measures” by invoking emergency provisions in its treaties.

Similarly, in the US, 28 US Code sec. 1498 (a) allows the government to make or use any invention without the patentee’s permission. To handle emergencies, the 1977 UK Patents Act (section 55) allows the government to sell a patented product, including specific drugs, medicines or medical devices, without the patentee’s consent.

When avian flu threatened early this century, the US was the only country in the world to issue compulsory licences to US manufacturers to produce Tamiflu to protect its entire population of over 300 million. The drugs were not used as the virus was not brought over either Pacific or Atlantic Oceans.

Biden must act
By helping developing countries expand vaccine manufacturing capacity and access existing capacity, US President Biden can earn much world appreciation overnight. US law and precedence enables such a unilateral initiative.

The Bayh-Dole Act allows the US government to require the owner or exclusive licensee of a patent, created with federal funding, to grant a third party a licence to an invention. Moderna received about US$2.5 billion from Operation Warp Speed, which dispensed over US$10 billion.

Moderna was founded in 2010 by university researchers with support from a venture capitalist. It has focused on mRNA technology, building on earlier work by University of Pennsylvania scientists with National Institutes for Health (NIH) funding.

The vaccine developer also used technology for previous coronavirus vaccines developed by the NIH. The NIH also provided extensive logistical support, overseeing clinical trials for tens of thousands. Moderna has already announced it will not enforce its patents during the pandemic.

Thus, POTUS has the needed leverage. The Bayh-Dole Act applies to Moderna’s vaccine, enabling the Biden administration to act independently and decisively against vaccine apartheid.

Sharing knowledge crucial
Developing countries not only need to have the right to produce vaccines, but also the requisite technical knowledge and information. Hence, the Biden administration should also support C-TAP, as recommended by Dr Anthony Fauci.

When the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) was in similar trouble, the Obama administration came forward to put US-owned patents into the pool while encouraging drug companies to help improve developing countries’ access to medicines.

President Biden knows that early US support was critical for the MPP’s eventual success. It dramatically increased production and lowered prices of medicines for HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis C and other infectious diseases in developing countries.

PANDA’s Response to Daily Maverick: Kung-Flu Panda: dodgy analytics or pandemic propaganda?

[PANDA have been denied the right to respond to a hatchet piece published by the Daily Maverick, as the recipients of similar treatment by our co-opted, press, we publish their response in full below. – Ed]

From: Nick Hudson
Date: Friday, 5 February 2021 at 08:24
To: Rebecca Davis
Subject: Re: Media inquiry: Daily Maverick ~ Panda

RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS FROM DAILY MAVERICK 4 February 2020

PANDA received these questions at 14h38 on 4 February and was required to respond by 9am on 5 February (4 business hours). Some of the questions posed of PANDA relate to the non-PANDA activities of individuals based in Canada, the United States and New Zealand. Given the timezones, it was not possible to get responses from the individuals in question and we have responded based on publicly available information.

The article that our response is requested to premises a conspiracy between various groups around the world, of which PANDA is, by implication, one. The article is such a tawdry concoction of nonsense that it hardly warrants a response. It is not clear what the purpose of the alleged conspiracy is, but the conspiracy is supposedly coordinated by the former lead psychologist at Cambridge Analytica, who apparently advises these “pandemic disinformation platforms”. The article is authored by a journalist once described by Vanity Fair as engaging in “conspiracy mongering” and is published on a controversial “platform for freelance reporters and writers to produce fearless journalism not found in the mainstream media.” It seems its primary purpose with this article is to attack “hard right politicians” in the UK’s Conservative Party. Daily Maverick would be the first mainstream media publication to publish the conspiracy theory about PANDA and thereby the first to lend credence to the fanciful and defamatory statements about PANDA and its members made therein.