Friday, July 22, 2011

Corporate Self-Interest And Strategic Choices: Gilead Licenses To Medicines Patent Pool

Intellectual Property rights and Public Health constitute two increasingly overlapping areas, most specially since 1994 with the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) based upon a diverse set of international treaties regulating different aspects of trade and commerce, among them the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS), which for the first time aims to establish a global common ground on regulating (through such instruments as patents) production, trade and stockpiling of pharmaceutical products.  Its implications in terms of access are a matter for concern, and a legitimate human rights issue which we will be following closely. 

Unfair trade is one of the driving forces behind entrenched poverty and widening health disparities.Trade policies impact health through their effects on the social determinants of health as shown in this chart prepared by the Economic Governance for Health
In this occasion we would like to highlight a good piece by Northeastern University School of Law professor (affiliate to its Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy)  and Health Gap Policy Analyst (Global Access Project) Brook K. Baker in IP-Watch on recent developments in the IP and Public Health area, most specially the recent licensing agreement between Gilead and the Patent Pool for medicines.  

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Violaciones al derecho a la vivienda en el Estado de México

Hemos recibido la siguiente comunicación de los compañeros del Centro Prodh de Mexico, hemos añadido algunos hyperlinks y otras referencias:
La Subcomisión de vicios ocultos de la Cámara de Diputados y funcionarios del Infonavit recorrieron el Conjunto Urbano Lomas de San Francisco Tepojaco, legisladoras se comprometieron a buscar una reunión con el Gobernador del Estado de México para que se dé respuesta a las peticiones vecinales.
Perpectiva general del Conjunto Urbano Lomas de San Francisco, destacar la falta de pavimentacion de vias junto con otras carencias estructurales denunciadas por l@s vecin@s a la Comision del Senado
El día de hoy se llevó a cabo una visita oficial por parte de la subcomisión de vicios ocultos de la Cámara de Diputados al Conjunto Urbano Lomas de San Francisco Tepojaco para constatar de primera mano las graves irregularidades existentes en esa y otras unidades habitacionales de la zona. Reconocieron la persistencia de Jorge Arzave Orihuela, vecino de la zona y defensor del derecho a la vivienda, quien incluso ha sufrido amenazas por su activismo. De igual manera se comprometieron a gestionar una reunión, tanto con el gobernador entrante como con el saliente, para que se solucionen los problemas de los vecinos.

Information shall be freed. Aaron Swartz and the Guerrilla Open access manifesto

 Access to knowledge is an essential part of  an informed citizenry, critical for a full-fledged democracy; obstacles and constraints of different nature to this access is one of the many factors feeding the digital divide, which in the age of the information keeps inequality painfully updated. 

Several recent developments have shown that those with the power and means to profit the most from the private use of information and knowledge are not  willing to relinquish this privilege.

Heavy Downloader, Aaron Swarts, co-founder of Demand Progress indicted by US authorities on July 19th accused of downloading thousands of academic papers and making them available to a wider audience Picture from Wikipedia

Furthermore they are taking very specific steps to ensure that no one dares to suggest they should.
On  one hand and following some successful hits by the Anonymous Hacker collective in solidarity with Wikileaks,  , the US Justice Department announced  on July 20th the arrest of 16 individuals (with 5 people held in European territories) and search raids in 35 locations in connection to the referred actions of solidarity. On the other hand, NYT and other corporate media outlets informed of the arrest on June 19th  of Aaron Swartz, a Harvard researcher known for his contribution to the development of the RSS tool and his stance in favor of open access. Mr Swartz presumably accessed a protected server at MIT  to download a huge number of academic papers and files from JSTOR  which he later purportedly uploaded in a file-sharing site (with another upload of massive academic information having been reported  recently in apparent solidarity with Mr. Swartz).  Finally, is worthy noting (and it will be developed in this very pages) that US, EU and other major western countries have been negotiating (behind closed doors) a new international treaty to counter "piracy", the so called Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) agreement is yet a new attempt by industrialized States (and their corporate backers) to uplift Intellectual Property standards in a way that it will be more difficult to access and share knowledge.
Here you can find the Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto that Mr. Swartz authored some time ago:

Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations. Want to read the papers featuring the most famous results of the sciences? You’ll need to send enormous amounts to publishers like Reed Elsevier.

There are those struggling to change this. The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it. But even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to things published in the future. Everything up until now will have been lost. 

That is too high a price to pay. Forcing academics to pay money to read the work of their colleagues? Scanning entire libraries but only allowing the folks at Google to read them? Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It’s outrageous and unacceptable.

“I agree,” many say, “but what can we do? The companies hold the copyrights, they make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it’s perfectly legal — there’s nothing we can do to stop them.” But there is something we can, something that’s already being done: we can fight back. 

Those with access to these resources — students, librarians, scientists — you have been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out. But you need not — indeed, morally, you cannot — keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords with colleagues, filling download requests for friends. 

Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by. You have been sneaking through holes and climbing over fences, liberating the information locked up by the publishers and sharing them with your friends.

But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground. It’s called stealing or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn’t immoral — it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.

Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they operate require it — their shareholders would revolt at anything less. And the politicians they have bought off back them, passing laws giving them the exclusive power to decide who can make copies. 

There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture. 

We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that's out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access.

With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?

 Aaron Swartz July 2008, Eremo, Italy

Here you can show your support for Mr Swartz in this trying moments.

More on the issue

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Huelga de hambre en Pelican Bay. Violencia institucional vs. voluntad de resistencia

Desde hace cerca de dos semanas centenares de presos en la cárcel de alta seguridad de Pelican Bay (California) se encuentran en huelga de hambre en protesta contra el régimen de aislamiento y las condiciones de reclusión 

Estados Unidos, entendido como país y sociedad, gusta de auto-representarse como la tierra de la libertad, donde todo individuo puede mediante su esfuerzo alcanzar sus metas y cumplir sus sueños[1]. Se trata sin duda de una idea atractiva, que sirve  tanto para alimentar la leyenda de los primeros pioneros y el mito de la nueva frontera, obviando el exterminio de los pueblos nativos, como para sustentar el mantra del mercado como espacio ultimo de desarrollo humano, donde si no compras no existes. Se trata sin duda de un discurso interesado y absolutamente necesario para mantener cierta apariencia de cohesión social  a pesar de las profundas inequidades  económicas que caracterizan la tierra de los hombres libres.
Sin embargo tal insistencia en los valores y virtudes de la libertad individual se ven de algún modo puestos en evidencia si uno toma en cuenta que el  Estado Estadounidense priva a un numero ingente de ciudadanos y ciudadanas de esa misma libertad que pregona y recita. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Military PR at work.Good piece on Petraeus by FAIR

General Petraeus, the academic warrior, is landed yet another soft ball by the mainstream media

 Puffing Petraeus

07/18/2011 by Jim Naureckas Newsweek (7/17/11) begins a piece on David Petraeus becoming CIA director with an account of how he got the "short-term job done" after he was named commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan:
Now, after 13 months, the 58-year-old Petraeus is coming home to head the Central Intelligence Agency. Since that day in the Oval Office, hopeful signs have begun appearing that he may have performed the seemingly impossible task of stabilizing the Afghan battlefield.
The article, by reporter John Barry, doesn't provide much detail on what these "hopeful signs" are, but Afghan civilian deaths are up 15 percent in the first half of 2011 vs. the first half of 2010.  (Maybe that's why an Afghan media executive cited in the piece contends that "not everyone in Afghanistan fully appreciates what Petraeus has achieved in his year there.")
As for U.S. troops and their non-Afghan allies, 705 of them were killed in the 13 months Petraeus was in charge of Afghanistan--as opposed to 725 in the 13 months before that. Other than that, I'm sure he had a great war.

Original link

More Information

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rien c´est-ce qui ressemble. Réalité, citoyenneté et propagande

Généralement, la description de toute la réalité c´est un exercice subjectif, une action que, consciemment ou inconsciemment traduises une ensemble d'opinions, préjugés, les idées et  perceptions qui affectent la façon dont nous voyons la choses. 

Tout discours ou narration constitue alors  une interprétation plus ou moins intéressé d´un contexte. C'est un procès qui se manifeste à différentes échelles, de la discussion entre deux personnes a la une du journal   ou les nouvelles en télévision (les images nous parlent). Les médias ne sérient autre  chose que des énormes haut-parleurs qui une fois et une autre nous répètent un  ensemble d´opinions, préjugés, les idées et perceptions déguises comme  nouvelles ou « information ».

Les moyens de communication en mains de l´Etat servent a ses intérêts, pas a ceux de la population, soient ils le maintien de l´ordre établi ou les point de vue de la  partitocratie. Affiche du Mai 68 emprunté de Histoire on the way
En prenant en considération  que les dits  "mass media" font souvent   partie de  sociétés et entreprises avec de nombreux intérêts connexes, souvent de  caractère transnationale c’ est  forte difficile les   voire comme des simples  messagers ou émetteurs   désintéressées d’une narrative donnée.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The story behind the " detainee 001" story. John Walker Lindh´s dad piece in The Guardian

  America's 'detainee 001' – the persecution of John Walker Lindh

Frank Lindh, father of 'American Taliban' John Walker Lindh, explains why his son is an innocent victim of America's 'war on terror'
 John Walker Lindh
John Walker Lindh following his capture by US troops in December 2001. Photograph: Getty Images
John Phillip Walker Lindh, my son, was raised a Roman Catholic, but converted to Islam when he was 16 years old. He has an older brother and a younger sister. John is scholarly and devout, devoted to his family, and blessed with a powerful intellect, a curious mind, and a wry sense of humour.
Labelled by the American government as "Detainee 001" in the "war on terror", John occupies a prison cell in Terre Haute, Indiana. He has been a prisoner of the American government since 1 December 2001, less than three months after the terror attacks of 9/11.
John is entirely innocent of any involvement in the terror attacks, or any allegiance to terrorism. That is not disputed by the American government. Indeed, all accusations of terrorism against John were dropped by the government in a plea bargain, which in turn was approved by the US district court in which the case was brought.

Link to the complete article 

More on the issue

Friday, July 15, 2011

New HRW report on torture under the Bush Administration.

 A good report by Human Rights Watch on toture and ill treatment on detainees under the Bush administration just came out, naming and establishing the responsibility of high-ranked officials in the commission of what ammounts to war crime .
We shall like to highlight the appendix, focusing on legal proceedings in foreign countries regarding US detainees treatment (France, Germany, Spain...) and remind everyone that an Spanish Journalist, Jose Couso, was killed by US troops in Baghdad in April 8th  2003;US authorities  blocked all attempts by Spanish  judicial authorities to investigate his death

Here is the slightly reduced press release and access to the report:
The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainee
The report,  Getting away with torture, presents substantial information warranting criminal investigations of Bush and senior administration officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and CIA Director George Tenet, for ordering practices such as “waterboarding,” the use of secret CIA prisons, and the transfer of detainees to countries where they were tortured.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Res és el que sembla. Realitat, ciutadania i propaganda

Generalment,  la descripció de tota realitat es un exercici subjectiu, una acció  que de manera conscient o inconscient denota  un conjunt d`opinions, prejudicis, idees i percepcions que afecten la manera com veiem les coses.Tot discurs o narrativa es per tant una interpretació, més o menys interessada d´un context.  Text basat (resumit) de Rien c´est-ce qui ressemble. Réalité, citoyenneté et propagande Juliol 2011 

"Tu escriu, el que et diguin! Gracies prensa coprorativa, no podriem pas control.lar el poble sense vosaltres" Extret de
Es tracta d´un procés que es manifesta a diverses escales, des de la conversació entre dues persones fins al titular d´un diari o l´imatge d´un telenotícies (les imatges també ens parlen). Els mitjans de comunicació massius no son serien altra cosa que els enormes altaveus que un i altra vegada ens repeteixen un conjunt d`opinions, prejudicis, idees i percepcions que ens venen com informació. Prenent en consideració que els anomenats “mitjans de masses” formen part de companyies i empreses amb múltiples interessos connexos, sovint de naturalesa transnacional es fa difícil veurel`s com un simple missatger o emissor desinteressat d´una narrativa determinada.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Justicia civil para los militares mexicanos. Un paso adelante en la lucha contra la impunidad.

 Nota de la BCC (Mundo) - mas extensa y detallada que la versión "global" que referimos anteriormente- sobre reciente decisión de la Suprema  Corte de Justicia de México  (hemos añadido algunos hyperlinks y fotos  para información de contexto y algo mas de info sobre  el trabajo de organizaciones mexicanas y estadounidenses sobre el tema).
Resulta  interesante que una decisión provocada por  los abusos del Estado mexicano durante la guerra sucia de los setenta tenga plena vigencia en la actual "guerra al narco" en la que se ha embarcado la administración del Presidente Calderón.

Tribunales civiles juzgarán abusos a derechos humanos de militares

Los militares que cometan violaciones a derechos humanos en México deben ser juzgados en tribunales civiles, y no en cortes militares como ocurre hasta ahora, según estableció en un fallo la Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación (SCJN).

Mexico court says troops should face civilian trials. An important step against impunity

A piece on Mexico`s war on drugs from BBC (we have added some hyper links for context and further info  on work by Mexican/ US Organizations)

  It is Worthy noting that a  ruling   based upon  human rights violations claims brought before courts during the "dirty war" waged by the Mexican Armed Forces  in the 60- 70`s  is to be implemented in the midst of the "War on drugs" waged by the same Armed Forces presumably under orders of President Calderon: 

Mexico's Supreme Court has said that soldiers accused of human rights abuses against civilians should be tried in civilian - not military - courts. 
Rights groups say violations by army personnel have risen sharply since troops were deployed against the drug gangs in late 2006.
Until now, soldiers have been tried by military tribunals.
Activists hailed the decision but highlighted shortcomings in Mexico's civilian courts.
The Supreme Court set out restrictions on the extent of the military code of justice in Mexico.
"Whenever a civilian's human rights have been violated by the armed forces, jurisdiction will be in civil courts," said Supreme Court Justice Arturo Zaldivar.
The justices agreed that "Mexican judges should apply the criteria of restricting military justice in future cases", a court statement said. Over the last few years, allegations of abuses by soldiers have become more frequent. In many cities in Mexico, the army has policing powers and direct contact with the population.
Soldiers have been accused of opening fire on civilians at checkpoints in areas where drug gangs operate, and of carrying out illegal arrests and searches.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Targeted killings and "surgical interventions", the automation of death

In June 2011 The Washington Post and  The New York Times amongst other U.S. corporate media outlets reported on the first attack by U.S. unmanned aerial vehicles ( drones ) in Somali territory. The episode is the first known attack by the Pentagon in Somalia since the targeted assassination (followed by retrieval of ADN samples from corpses ) of Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, Sheikh Hussein Ali Fidow and other presumed high-ranked members of the al-Shabab armed group in an helicopter raid by U.S. commandos attached to the Vth  float in 2009 and the first use of a U.S. drone for offensive purposes in that country. Drones had been used previously in the country for surveillance and monitoring, including identification of targets for future attacks, one of them being shot down in October 2009.

Asesinatos selectivos e "intervenciones quirúrgicas", la automatización de la muerte.

A finales de Junio de 2011  el Washington Post, el New York Times y otros medios corporativos estadounidenses informaron acerca de la primer ataque realizado por  EE.UU. con vehículos aéreos no tripulados (drones) en territorio Somali.

El episodio constituia   el primer ataque   reconocido por el Pentágono en Somalia  desde la eliminación de Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, Sheikh Hussein Ali Fidow entre otros miembros del grupo armado al-Shabab  mediante una incursión en helicóptero realizada por comandos estadounidenses adscritos a la Va Flota  en 2009 y el primer uso de un drone estadounidense  con fines ofensivos en  ese país. Anteriormente se habían utilizado  drones en el país para vigilancia y monitoreo, incluida la identificación de objetivos para  posteriores ataques , uno de ellos siendo  derribado en octubre de 2009.