By Makini Brice (Reuters) -As the world follows the often-emotional testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of murdering George Floyd, members of Floyd's family watch a live feed in a separate room in the courthouse. Frequently by their side is civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, who heads the family's legal team. Floyd and his brothers often slept in the same bed as children, with Floyd playing the role of protector, Crump says. "For us, it's a case. It's a cause. It's a hashtag," Crump told Reuters. "For them ... it's their family. This is their...
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In the face of mounting international pressure, the Biden administration on Wednesday announced support for waiving intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines—which campaigners welcomed as "a transformative, hopeful event" that has the potential to save lives around the world, especially in the Global South.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced the move as activists gathered in Washington, D.C. for a Rally for a People's Vaccine urging President Joe Biden to back a Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO) proposed by the India and South Africa.
Members of the WTO met earlier Wednesday to continue discussions about waiving intellectual property protections for much-needed vaccines. Biden's support for the waiver is a major policy shift; up until now, the U.S. government was a key opponent of the proposal, introduced when his predecessor was still in office.
"This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures," Tai said in a statement. "The administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for Covid-19 vaccines."
Tai added that the Biden administration will engage in negotiations at the WTO that "will take time given the consensus-based nature of the institution and the complexity of the issues involved" while emphasizing that the ultimate "aim is to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible."
"The Biden administration's decision to support waiving intellectual property restrictions on Covid-19 vaccines is a genuinely transformative event, one which reinforces that there is real reason to hope for a better future when the right people are in place in the federal government," said Jeff Hauser, executive director of the Revolving Door Project. "This one choice may save millions of lives."
Hauser particularly praised Tai "for handling the first big political conflict of her tenure with grace and professionalism, as the administration ultimately worked toward the right call." He added that her "ability to face down the well-funded and powerful pharmaceutical interests fighting against this waiver without fear shows that she was a perfect choice for this crucial job."
"Again, appointments matter. Personnel is policy," Hauser said. "We will closely watch the inevitable conflicts during the text-based negotiations at the World Trade Organization. But this initial decision is one which Americans and onlookers around the world should celebrate."
The announcement did spark celebrations worldwide.
"Biden's support for the TRIPS waiver is unquestionably the right thing to do for the world and the nation," declared Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of the Citizens Trade Campaign, which helped organize a 431-group letter in support of the waiver earlier this year. "More work is needed to make sure the waiver moves forward as effectively as possible, but this has a real potential to help save lives, strengthen the economy, improve international relations and eventually end this awful pandemic."
"Covid vaccines were developed with broad public support, and everyone worldwide deserves access to them," Stamoulis added, expressing hope for speedy WTO negotiations. "Biden's willingness to support the waiver is a testament not only his character, but to the excellent work of the hundreds of organizations and millions of individuals who urged this to happen."
Biden and Tai "recognized that Pharma's 'business as usual' is killing us," said Oxfam America president and CEO Abby Maxman, applauding "their willingness to pursue a new path that prioritizes public health over private profits."
Maxman agreed that the shift "is a testament to the widespread public movement calling for an end to vaccine monopolies. It is also a testament to an administration that listens and is willing to do whatever it takes to defeat Covid-19."
The U.K.-based group advocacy group Global Justice Now tweeted that "THIS IS HUGE," and said that "there can be no more excuses. The U.K., E.U., and all governments blocking a #TRIPSwaiver must change course. It's time for a #PeoplesVaccine."
Along with praising the administration's move, Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU's Human Rights Program, explained why the waiver is so necessary.
"Vaccine distribution is deeply inequitable at home, but even more so abroad," he said. "One in four people in high income countries have received a vaccine dose; but just one in 500 people in lower income countries have received a dose. This extremely slow and inequitable distribution has dire consequences for billions of people around the world."
Paul O'Brien, executive director of Amnesty International USA, also commended Biden for reversing the prior administration's position on the waiver and making clear "that the U.S. prioritizes people's lives over pharmaceutical company profits," while also urging the president to go even further to save lives.
Specifically, he called for promoting multilateral efforts to scale up production of health products through the World Health Organization's Covid-19 Technology Access Pool "to lead the global fight to eradicate the pandemic and to ensure that all people, regardless of where they live, are given their fair shot at access to the vaccine."
Experts bash Bill Barr for a 'nesting-doll of lies' — and wonder what else was in his 'culture of dishonesty at DOJ
In a discussion about former Attorney General Bill Barr and revelations that he lied in court, MSNBC experts discussed with host Nicolle Wallace how a former attorney general is held accountable. At the same time, the group wondered if Barr worked so hard to cover this up, what else there is that he lied about and tried to cover up for former President Donald Trump.
"We've gotten used to talking about the politicization and the corruption of the Justice Department under Bill Barr," said former DOJ spokesperson Matt Miller. What I think we're seeing more and more is just the outright dishonesty. In this case you have a nesting doll of lies where you have the underlying fact where he misled the country about what was in the Mueller report. You have the Justice Department lying to the court about the purpose of the memo and lying to the court about the contents of the memo and what you find is that there is a culture of dishonesty that permeated the department and the tangled web you weave and the department told an initial lie in Bill Barr's letter in Bill Barr's press conference in 2018 and had spent the last two years trying to cover it up."
Miller went on to say that it's clear the department has worked for years trying to keep the facts from coming out about Barr's behavior and that of the DOJ officials who colluded with him.
"You have to believe that that is going to be the same in all these other cases, the firing of the U.S. Attorney and the Southern District of New York and you can go down the list of other justice department scandals. the one thing that I think we'll find that holds true in all of them is you have the attorney general and other top officials around him lying to the public over and over again."
See the full discussion in the videos below:
Part 1 www.youtube.com
Part 2 www.youtube.com
Video hosting and sharing platform Vimeo has just banned Trump ally and MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, but they wish him the "best of luck in finding a hosting platform better suited to your needs."
"This is worse than what Twitter did to me and my company!" Lindell told The Daily Beast. "This affects my business, the Lindell Recovery Network, and the entrepreneurs who I work with."
Lindell has been one of the top spreaders of falsehoods, misinformation, and conspiracy theories on the 2020 election and the coronavirus pandemic.
"Your account was terminated for violating Vimeo's Terms of Service…and Community Guidelines," Vimeo told Lindell, according to a screenshot of an email he shared with The Daily Beast. "We do not allow accounts that upload content created by or mainly featuring a banned user. As the purpose of your account is to promote content from a banned user, it has been removed."
In March Lindell told former Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon that the former president would be back in the Oval office by August.
"All the evidence I have – everything is going to go before the Supreme Court and the election of 2020 is going bye-bye." he claimed. "It was an attack by other countries, communism coming in, I don't know what they're going to do after they pull it down but –" he insisted.
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