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The eyes of the American people seldom stray beyond these borders, and when they do, it tends to be in the direction of others who live lives very much like their own in places within the NATO sphere of influence. This is true even of the most cosmopolitan observers.

This is why, even if we were not in the middle of a pandemic, I would not expect much of anything to be made of a recent lawsuit filed in the Netherlands on behalf of a group of expatriate Eritreans. The suit alleges — I almost hesitate to employ the standard journalese here because the facts do not seem to be at issue — that forced labor is being used in the construction of roads and other infrastructure projects in the east African nation that are financed by the European Union.

There is certainly no dispute about the presence of forced labor in Eritrea. With the exception of North Korea, one of only two countries it ranks ahead of in the World Press Freedom Index, it has the highest rate of forced labor in the entire world. Estimates suggest that nearly one in ten Eritreans are subject to unpaid state-mandated labor. This takes a variety of forms. In some cases military conscripts are required to perform non-military labor on behalf of the state; in others, it is a more direct process of enlisting civilians to do construction and other work. A sizable number of Eritreans in both groups are taken by the government directly from the country’s public schools, where attendance is compulsory. This includes both teachers and children.

These practices are not new. They have been denounced by human rights observers around the world, including the United Nations, which has called the program “tantamount to slavery.”

At the risk of quibbling unnecessarily, I would like to suggest that the qualifier here is unnecessary, as are common designations such as “modern slavery.” There is nothing especially contemporary about slavery in Eritrea today. Like the chattel slavery practiced in this country in the 18th and 19th centuries, it is the direct result of globalized free trade. Just as the Whig magnates of Manchester and Birmingham and the financiers of London made possible the spoliation carried out by South Carolina planters, so too does investment from Europe, the Middle East, and, especially, China allow the dictatorial regime in Eritrea to enslave its own citizens. So far from being a horrifying aberration, slavery was and remains an essential part of the borderless capitalism that many economists consider the greatest liberating force in the history of mankind.

There is only one hope for the slaves of Eritrea: international institutions whose organizing principle is not the facilitation of economic growth for its own sake but the peace and security of persons in all countries. Whatever the results of the recent E.U. lawsuit, we should not expect the Gulf States and the Chinese to cease taking advantage of what they consider a mere investment opportunity. As I write this, Chinese state media unabashedly boasts that Beijing (which is no stranger to the enslavement of peoples within its own borders) is “Eritrea’s largest trading partner, source of foreign investment and project contractor.” I wonder why. In comparison with the Arab and Chinese spending in Eritrea, the 80 million euros dispensed by Brussels (seemingly with the best of intentions) are a drop in the bucket.

This should not be allowed to continue. The development of modern infrastructure in Eritrea and elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa should not come at the expense of those whom it is ostensibly meant to benefit. But until the UN and the IMF and the WTO and all those other dreary acronyms are replaced by what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once famously referred to as international governing bodies “with teeth,” one despairs of any other outcome.

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Pakistan blast: At least seven dead in Peshawar school attack

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At least seven people have died after an explosion during a class at a religious school in Pakistan, police have said.

Children of various age groups are among the dead, an officer at the scene told the BBC.

Dozens of others were injured in the attack, which took place in the northern city of Peshawar.

No group has yet claimed responsibility. An investigation has been launched.

The city of Peshawar, close to the Afghan border, has seen some of the worst of the violence during the Taliban insurgency in recent years.

Six years ago, gunmen stormed a military school in the city leaving more than 150 dead, including many children.

What happened?

The blast took place at about 08:30 local time (03:30 GMT), police told the BBC.

About 60 people are understood to have been in the class at the religious school, known as a madrassa.

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An eyewitness has told the police he saw a man enter the building with a bag of explosives shortly before the blast.

news agency that two teachers were injured.

Hospital officials told Reuters news agency that they had received dozens of injured, many with burns.

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Duterte seeks best Covid vaccine deal but ‘will not beg’ or allow private suppliers to rip off Philippines

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he would pursue a direct government-to-government deal for a coronavirus vaccine with either China or Russia, warning that ‘corrupt’ private suppliers could try to swindle his country.

“Let me tell everybody that we will not beg, we will pay,” Duterte said in a televised address on Monday night, adding that while Manila is not seeking charity it also aims to sign a direct government-to-government deal without intermediaries.

The president did not indicate the status of vaccine negotiations with Beijing or Moscow, saying he merely mentioned the two countries as possible sources out of a “sense of urgency,” and that “all options” were still on the table. 

The one that could give us the best interest for the country will be chosen.

Duterte stressed the need to obtain an inoculation directly from a friendly foreign state, rather than a private business, warning that such transactions could only bring “trouble” and that a government deal would mean “no corruption.”




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Western pharma is ‘all about profit’: Philippines’ Duterte vows to solely procure coronavirus vaccines from Russia & China



Under its proposed national budget for 2021, Manila will devote some 2.5 billion Philippine pesos ($51.6 million) to vaccine procurement, which Duterte said would be overseen by Finance Secretary Carlos ‘Sonny’ Dominguez III.

“Since he is going to pay, I will listen to Sonny. If there are no funds, he will go to jail,” the president said, apparently threatening prison time for a member of his own cabinet.

Duterte previously torched Western pharma firms developing coronavirus immunizations, saying they were “all about profit,” pointing to some companies who asked for a “cash advance before they deliver the vaccine.” The leader gave a stern warning to any company who offered similar proposals, vowing “I’ll kick your a**.”

Though the president has offered to be the first in his country to take the jab developed in Russia, Sputnik V, it is not clear whether such an arrangement has been made. However, Moscow’s ambassador to the island nation, Igor Khovaev, recently stated the jab could be available to the Philippines by the end of the year.




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Sputnik V questions ANSWERED: Head of team financing world’s first Covid-19 vaccine explains formula to critics



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At least 7 killed, 70 wounded after bomb goes off at religious school in Pakistan – hospital official

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At least seven people were killed and more than 70 wounded in an explosion inside a seminary in northern Pakistan on Tuesday morning. Children are among the victims.

The blast took place in Peshawar, the capital of the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Senior police official Wagar Azim told AFP that a bomb brought inside the Speen Jammat mosque, which also functions as a religious school for local children, went off in the middle of Quran studi

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