Stuff you should read and watch #2

Best stuff I’ve read:

C.J. Polychroniou’s interviewed development economist, Jayati Ghosh, on the WTO and intellectual property (IP) rights

On the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement:

Susan Sell has provided a detailed and devastating account of how 12 powerful men from pharma, software and entertainment effectively lobbied to make the U.S. government insist on inclusion of this agreement in the set of agreements negotiated at the Uruguay Round of GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), which was signed in 1994. The TRIPS agreement intervened in legal systems of all member countries, by putting the burden of proof on the accused rather than the accuser, adopting a much looser definition of “invention” that allowed much more private control of knowledge, and then by making all the rules much stricter and more stringent so that it became much easier to claim infringement. This effectively grants a monopoly over knowledge that companies can use to limit production and increase their own market power. Over the past decades, this has become a major limitation on the dissemination of knowledge and technology for the common good, and essentially benefited large companies who now hold most of the IP rights in the world.

On Big Pharma’s bogus justification for IP rules:

Patents and other intellectual property rules are usually seen as providing a necessary financial reward for invention/innovation, without which technological change would either not occur or be more limited. The pharma industry argues that costs of developing new drugs are very high and there are high risks involved, because the drugs may not succeed even after years of effort, and so they must be granted property rights over this knowledge and be allowed to charge high prices thereafter.

But actually, pharma companies typically only do the “last mile” research for most drugs, vaccines and therapeutics: the bulk of the research — not just the basic science, but also more advanced discoveries that enable breakthroughs — is publicly funded. Big companies increasingly just acquire promising compounds and other knowledge from labs and smaller companies that benefit from public investments. Pharma companies in the U.S., for example, have spent relatively little on R&D — much less than they spend on advertising and marketing, and a small fraction of what they pay out to shareholders or spend in share buybacks designed to increase stock prices.

Eva Bartlett on Syria’s recent presidential election:

And that’s the crux of it: Syrians aren’t just celebrating the leader they overwhelmingly love and respect, they’re celebrating the defeat of this terrorism in their country and of the imperialists’ regime-change project in Syria. A Syrian-American friend, Johnny Achi, flew to Syria expressly to vote in the elections. He told me“I’m a Syrian citizen and have lived in the United States for about 30 years. I’m here in Damascus to exercise my rights and duties as a Syrian citizen, since the US chose to close our embassies. As long as the embassies are closed, we’re going to keep making the trip here, to exercise our duty and our democratic right.”

“I chose Douma, in eastern Ghouta, under the ‘rebels’ until 2018, to show that there is a big turnout here, that people are happy to be back in a government-controlled area. Everyone I talked to is so jubilant that they got rid of all of Jaysh al-Islam, Faylaq al-Rahman, and all those brigades that were making their lives miserable,” he said. 

Eva Bartlett’s “Douma: Three Years On”:

It is high time to put the Douma hoax to rest. It’s also beyond time to acknowledge the huge sacrifices of the Syrian army (and allies) in fighting terrorism and restoring peace to Syria. Meanwhile, while cynical Western war propagandists mock the Syrian presidential elections, Syrians in Syria and around the world hold massive demonstrations in support of their president, as they did in 2014.

Gareth Porter wrote the best report on the leaks from Daniel Ellsberg revealing attempts by the Joint Chiefs to start a nuclear war with China:

It was the eagerness of the Joint Chiefs for a nuclear war against China, rather than the policy of communist China, that presented the most serious threat to American security. Although the circumstances surrounding the U.S.-China conflict over Taiwan have changed dramatically since that stage of the Cold War, the 1958 Taiwan crisis provides a sobering lesson as the US military gears up for a new military confrontation with China.

Best stuff I’ve watched:

Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton interview with economist Michael Hudson

On the US economic recovery:

It’s obvious that the United States economy is going to be in real trouble. Once the Covid crisis stops uniting the country in a feeling that we’re all in this together – and certainly in New York, where I live, in August, the freeze on real estate evictions, by renters, and foreclosures on mortgagees is going to end, and it’s expected there will be 50,000 New Yorkers thrown into the street. They’ve very kindly decided to postpone this until August, so at least they can sleep in the park, and don’t have to begin sleeping in the subways until maybe October.

There’s no way that any Wall Street economist that I know can see if the economy is really going to recover. The stock market is going way up, thanks to a Federal Reserve policy of subsidizing bonds and stocks, with 83% owned by the 1% of the population. But the Federal Reserve is not backing any spending into the actual economy.

On Bill Gates:

And the policy that Gates is promoting in agriculture, instead of replenishing the soil is poisoning it. So if you wouldn’t want your worst enemy to be in charge of taking over American agricultural land, you wouldn’t want him to have any role in that whatsoever.

The fact is, he’s really stupid. Once you get $100 billion, your IQ drops 30%. And so he’s suffered from that. You want to just sort of belong. You’re not the same person anymore. And once you inherit money, right there, your IQ goes down 20%. So now he’s operating with 50% of an IQ.

An interesting interview with John McWhorter on curse words and anti-racism:

There are people who seem to think of their purpose as being to demonstrate that they are not racist, to police the rest of us for racism, and to defenestrate and shun people who they deem to be not anti-racist enough. Their idea is that they are doing something that is maximally good for humankind.

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