A Counter-Narrative? Ruminations Around Holocaust Memorial Day

A mother holds her child in the Al Dhale’e Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camp in Yemen. The war in Yemen continues to ravage the country and its people, senior UN-appointed rights investigators said, in a call for an international probe into suspected war crimes, and sanctions against the perpetrators. Credit: YPN for UNOCHA

By Azza Karam
NEW YORK, Feb 2 2021 – For more than two decades, the mantra was “PVE” (preventing violent extremism) and/or “CVE” (countering violent extremism).

Millions of dollars were spent, new NGOs and think tanks emerged, government policy papers were drafted, countless books and articles were published, large and small scale initiatives developed – indeed almost an entire industry in development and foreign policy spaces thrived.

Complete with UN resolutions and entire units inside the UN system and intergovernmental entities were created to focus on this (thinly veiled religious) violent extremism.

It would seem that PVE/CVE also delineated political positions in certain countries. Were you of the PVE or the CVE inclination? The difference between these two positions was not whether one considered violent extremism to be a – largely – religious (and let’s face it, Islamic-focused) set of features, but whether you were seeking to be politically correct about the endeavor, or just ‘call it like it is”.

Of course, all this generated multitudes of arguments, analysis and ‘alternative views’. By and large, the consensus – and certainly where multi million dollars of investment were going – appeared to be, that ‘developing a counter narrative’ was the way to go.

Horrific gang violence, atrocious drug-related violence, spiking gender-based violence, sexual violence in conflict and non-conflict settings, even domestic violence, school shootings, policy brutality, all soared. But none of that of course, is violent extremism.

In the US, throughout the 1990s, several incidents took place – Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992; Waco, Texas, in 1993; and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. The sight of men carrying torches in Charlottesville and braying anti-semitic and anti-everything decent slogans, apparently was … well, clearly, freedom of speech.

While on the other hand, peaceful demonstrations against the oldest and most vile of prejudices which intersects with and informs so many other prejudices – I mean racism by the way – those we did see as worthy of brutality and force. And that brutality and force was also not violent extremism.

With all that, to many of the pundits (‘experts’, intellectuals, intelligence communities) in the ‘developed’ part of the world, none of all this qualified as violent extremism. No, violent extremism, and its kin, terrorism, were what, by and large, Muslims did.

And the Muslims, by the way, were not really a religion. In fact, maybe they were not even human. Our kind of humans, you see, don’t do violent extremism. ‘Our’ kind of humans do good, old fashioned pro-Life kind of religion, informed by wholesome [western] values which are worthy of export as part of an ongoing mission to bring light to the world.

And when some of those things turn ugly and even contravene international standards of human rights (as if those are even relevant), it does not get labelled what it is, because ‘there are good people on all sides’.

When nations turn away or intern those seeking refuge and those displaced by their own duty bearers, and when these people end up cold and without clothes in the coldest of times, or separated from their loved ones in manners reminiscent of the stories of earlier Jewish internment camps, that is not violent extremism.

When there are over two million Muslims in “reeducation camps” (because of their propensity to ‘Islamic extremism’ of course) – no, not in Nazi times back then, but right here, happening right now – that ‘reeducation’ is not called violent extremism.

Even genocide – when we dare to name it – is not violent extremism either, apparently. You see, if a powerful government commits it, it is not violent extremism. And the label of genocide is anyway facetious and disrespectful and libelous and plain wrong. Some say. When they dare to speak.

We needed to watch the Capitol of the United States of America, besieged by men with war paint on their faces, wearing animal masks, military-like fatigues, brazenly waving the flags of states which once went to war with kith and kin to defend human slavery, former (and currently serving) military and/or police officers, even women with a mission apparently willing to scale walls to enter “the people’s house” – and get shot dead by terrified, seriously understaffed security people.

We had to wait to see these macabre sights of yet another awful US reality TV show, to begin – only begin – to name it. So now that we have named it, shall we draw upon the decades’ long ‘expertise’ of NGOs, human rights actors, think tanks, governments and the industry, academia, which largely focused on the Muslim other?

All those who valiantly created “counter-narratives” to deal with this variant of the virus of violent extremism? Or are counter-narratives only something we invest in when it comes to others outside of ‘our’ kind?

And what is the counter narrative to rampant hate of the multiple, intersecting and difficult to discern forms of ‘otherness’, when divisiveness, bitterness and ignorance are normal in so many parts of the world?

For we spent decades normalizing othering. Even as we sought to deal with violence, we did so by ‘othering’ (rendering different from ‘us’) the perpetrators and the actions, even when they were us. We even othered violence itself by defining an extreme form thereof! As if violence was not bad enough.

As we sought ‘counter narratives’, we affirmed the us-versus-them world view: our narrative was, would be, better than theirs. But hate is not a narrative. Hatred is felt, it is embodied, it is lived – and it is actively justified.

Hatred feeds on othering. Othering is the fuel which makes hatred rage as the fires that consumed our earth did in 2020 – literally as well as metaphorically.

The antidote to othering, to the roots of hatred, is to recognize the power inherent in our diversity. All faiths teach that diversity is manifestations of the Divine, and/or that the Divine resides in diversity – sometimes in polar opposites (e.g. Destructor-Creator).

All faiths try to teach that power is not about institutions and boundaries. Instead, ‘power’ is to love the diversities. Yet still we persist, and our religions and our politics and our institutions persist, in the politics of othering, and defining the boundaries of us versus them.

When will we learn, that we are one and the same? What will it take?


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FXCM expands Stock Baskets offering with seven new baskets

LONDON and SYDNEY, Australia and JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Feb. 02, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — FXCM Group, LLC ("FXCM Group' or "FXCM'), the leading international provider of online foreign exchange trading, CFD trading, cryptocurrencies and related services, is today announcing a further expansion of its Stock Basket offering to customers. FXCM previously introduced a portfolio of Stock Baskets in May 2020 and are now expanding this offering with the addition of seven new baskets.

Currently, FXCM offers six Stock Baskets to its retail clients. These feature some of the most widely traded companies globally and are made up into the following: Big US Tech ("FAANG"), Esports & Gaming, Biotechnology, Cannabis, China Technology and China E–commerce. These baskets have proven to be popular with their customers and as a result they are expanding this area with a host of new products.

The new sectors added include Airlines, Casinos, Travel & Hospitality, US Automotive, US Banks, US E–commerce, and "Work From Home'.

FXCM's Stock Basket products combine the shares of multiple companies from one sector into a single tradeable instrument. This allows customers to speculate on sectors as a whole instead of having to depend on the performance of a single company.

For example, the "Work From Home' basket combines the companies that have become front and centre of every day life for many under lockdown, including Zoom Video Communications Inc, Slack Technologies Inc, Twilio Inc, as well as Chewy Inc and Peloton Interactive Inc. With these companies having prospered during the pandemic, there was a lot of interest from FXCM's customers to invest in them. The "Work From Home' basket pools these companies and allows for smaller investors to invest some of these key companies.

The list of companies and weightings is available on FXCM's stock basket website: (https://www.fxcm.com/uk/stock–baskets/).

This announcement follows on from a year which saw FXCM launch US, UK and European Single Shares trading, with the broker expected to add trading on more individual company stocks and new exchanges throughout 2021.

Brendan Callan, CEO of FXCM said: "We are always looking to create new opportunities for our customers to capitalise on, and this is continued with these new baskets reflecting some of the industries that have seen the biggest market movement during the pandemic. Their addition to our offering will provide our customers with the ability to speculate on the fluctuation of companies that have dominated the headlines throughout 2020 in a more cost–effective way, while minimising their risk by spreading exposure across multiple stocks in just a single click."

About FXCM:

FXCM is a leading provider of online foreign exchange (FX) trading, CFD trading, and related services. Founded in 1999, the company's mission is to provide global traders with access to the world's largest and most liquid market by offering innovative trading tools, hiring excellent trading educators, meeting strict financial standards and striving for the best online trading experience in the market. Clients have the advantage of mobile trading, one–click order execution and trading from real–time charts. In addition, FXCM offers educational courses on FX trading and provides trading tools, proprietary data and premium resources. FXCM Pro provides retail brokers, small hedge funds and emerging market banks access to wholesale execution and liquidity, while providing high and medium frequency funds access to prime brokerage services via FXCM Prime. FXCM is a Leucadia Company.

Forex Capital Markets Limited: FCA registration number 217689 (www.fxcm.com/uk)

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.

74.74% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

FXCM EU LTD: CySEC license number 392/20 (www.fxcm.com/eu)

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.

The vast majority of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs.

You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

FXCM Australia Pty. Limited: AFSL 309763. Losses can exceed your deposited funds. The products may not be suitable for all investors. Please ensure that you fully understand the risks involved. If you decide to trade products offered by FXCM AU, you must read and understand the Financial Services Guide, Product Disclosure Statement, and Terms of Business on www.fxcm.com/au.

FXCM South Africa (PTY) Ltd: FSP No 46534 (www.fxcm.com/za). Our service includes products that are traded on margin and carry a risk of losses in excess of your deposited funds. The products may not be suitable for all investors. Please ensure that you fully understand the risks involved.

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Caught in Tangled Web of Vaccine Nationalism

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Feb 2 2021 – “Oh what a tangled web we weave When first we practice to deceive”. Walter Scott’s lines, already over two centuries old, nicely sum up how pursuit of national advantage and private gain have undermined the public interest and the common good.

As known COVID-19 infections exceed 100 million internationally, with more than two million lives lost, rich countries are now quarrelling publicly over access to limited vaccine supplies. With ‘vaccine nationalism’ widespread, multilateral arrangements have not been able to address current challenges well.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Vaccine nationalism has meant that the rich and powerful come first, not only in societies, but also in the world, making a mockery of the ‘No one left behind’ slogan embraced by the international community.

Many developing countries and most of their people will have to wait for access to vaccines while the powerful and better off secure prior access regardless of need or urgency.

Vaccine nationalism and the prospect of more profits by not scaling up output to induce scarcity may thus cause more losses of both lives and livelihoods, causing economies to slow further.

TRIPS waiver blocked
The 1994 World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) greatly strengthened and extended intellectual property rights (IPRs) transnationally. It is easy to forget that strict cross-border enforcement of IPRs claims are relatively recent.

While many assume that IPRs are needed to promote research and development for technological progress, this is seriously challenged by most serious histories and historians of technology.

Perhaps more importantly, there is considerable evidence that IPRs may well have inadvertently slowed progress. More generally, IPRs have discouraged research cooperation and knowledge sharing, so essential to progress.

By enabling, and thus encouraging ‘patent trolling’ and hoarding, IPRs have effectively denied access to patented products and processes except to the highest bidders.

Public health exception
Following the pushback to the original TRIPS, boosted by Nelson Mandela after he became South African President in 1994, developing countries have secured legal access to ‘essential medicines’.

A 2001 WTO Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health affirmed the right of countries to protect public health, enable access to medicines, and issue a compulsory license (CL), even without a health emergency.

In return for developing countries extending IP protection, developed countries promised to establish manufacturing capabilities for patented processes in developing countries, and incentivise their transnational corporations (TNCs) to enable technology transfer to developing countries, especially the least developed countries (LDCs).

In 2017, the TRIPS Agreement was amended to confirm developing countries unable to domestically produce certain pharmaceuticals, could issue compulsory licenses to import patented drugs produced abroad under compulsory licensing.

But although TRIPS now allows such use of compulsory licensing, developing countries are still constrained by its complex rules, procedures and conditions as well as constant TNC threats and inducements, supported by their governments.

Hence, use of compulsory licensing by developing countries has been largely limited to several more independent middle-income countries, such as India, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, and to HIV/AIDS medicines.

TRIPS waiver
The TRIPS waiver – proposed by South Africa, India and others to the WTO – seeks temporary suspension of several TRIPS provisions on patents, design and protection of undisclosed information.

The proposed waiver seeks to greatly scale up production of and access to COVID-19 vaccines, medicines and equipment, especially in developing countries, to contain the contagion. But the Trump administration, the European Union (EU) and their allies have stubbornly blocked the waiver.

The EU claims “an [intellectual property] system is…also to ensure the publication and dissemination of research results, when otherwise they will remain secret.” It omits to acknowledge that no vaccine developer has shared research results needed to scale up vaccine output by others, including generic producers.

Vaccine nationalism rules
Although the waiver implies treating vaccine production and distribution as public goods, and the European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen has spoken about “working together” and “solidarity” for the “public good”, the EU continues to block it.

But after AstraZeneca and Pfizer failed to meet their contractual obligations to deliver vaccines to EU countries, the now embattled EC President has criticised the companies for not meeting their contractual obligations. She did not hesitate to emphasise that EU taxpayers and governments had paid much to accelerate vaccine development and production.

Ironically, the most feasible way forward now involves approving the TRIPS waiver at the WTO. The US and EU governments can make the badly needed breakthrough and thus do much to restore international confidence in their intentions.

With Biden announcing the US re-joining the World Health Organization (WHO), the new administration can not only lift the embargo on exports of vaccines, vital medicines and equipment, but also advocate for the TRIPS waiver, quickly winning appreciation for his commitment to multilateral leadership.

US taxpayers have already spent many billions for Trump’s Operation Warp Speed to accelerate private vaccine development and distribution. Now, both the US and EU are well placed to greatly accelerate vaccine production and distribution for the world at relatively little additional cost.

They can do so by ensuring that relevant information is quickly shared to rapidly scale up vaccine production. For example, mass vaccine production capacity remains limited internationally, but it is the Serum Institute of India, not a developed country facility, which is acknowledged as the world leader by far.


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Nyxoah and Vanderbilt University enter exclusive licensing agreement regarding next generation neurostimulation technologies to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)


Nyxoah and Vanderbilt University enter exclusive licensing agreement regarding next generation neurostimulation technologies to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Mont–Saint–Guibert, Belgium "" 2nd February, 2021 "" Nyxoah SA (Euronext: NYXH) ("Nyxoah" or the "Company"), a health–technology company focused on the development and commercialization of innovative solutions and services to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), today announces the Company has signed an exclusive license agreement with Vandebilt University, Nashville "" TN, USA.
The agreement allows Nyxoah to further develop new neurostimulation technologies for the treatment of sleep disordered breathing conditions that were invented by Dr. David T. Kent. New treatments will focus, among others, on stimulating the ansa cervicalis, the efferent fiber of the glossopharyngeal nerve or nerves that innervate the palatoglossus and/or the palatopharyngeus muscle. Nyxoah will also work together with Vanderbilt University to continue prosecution of patent applications, which will give Nyxoah the exclusive right to use these new technologies once patents will be granted.
Nyxoah agreed to pay Vanderbilt an up–front fee as well as payments based on regulatory, development and commercialization milestones. Nyxoah also agreed to pay royalties on future product sales.
Under this agreement, Nyxoah shall develop a next generation neurostimulation–based solution to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea patients. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common sleep disordered breathing condition, affecting almost 1 billion people globally1. Over the past decade, neurostimulation therapies, such as the proprietary Genio system developed and commercialized by Nyxoah, have proven their long–term efficacy in efficiently treating OSA patients.

Olivier Taelman, Chief Executive Officer of Nyxoah, commented: "We are delighted to start collaborating with Vanderbilt University, a worldwide recognized US university in this field of research, through this exclusive licensing agreement. This will open new horizons in the field of neurostimulation technologies, improving and expanding current treatment solutions for OSA patients, and will reinforce Nyxoah's future pipeline. The upcoming collaboration with Dr. Kent at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, together with Nyxoah's groundbreaking approach in neurostimulation and its collaboration with international key opinions leaders, will help Nyxoah strengthen its position as innovator offering patient–centered solutions."

Dr. David T. Kent from Vanderbilt University added: "Partnering with Nyxoah creates the opportunity to build new technologies based on Vanderbilt's intellectual property. We share the same vision of developing disruptive solutions, always having in mind that patients should be put at the center. Our mission will be to demonstrate the unique potential of such new technologies resulting in a broader OSA treatment portfolio."

– ENDS –

For further information, please contact:

Milena Venkova, Corporate Communications Manager
+32 490 11 93 57

About Nyxoah

Nyxoah is a healthtech company focused on the development and commercialization of innovative solutions and services to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Nyxoah's lead solution is the Genio system, a CE–validated, patient–centered, next generation hypoglossal neurostimulation therapy for OSA, the world's most common sleep disordered breathing condition that is associated with increased mortality risk2 and comorbidities including cardiovascular diseases, depression and stroke.
Following the successful completion of the BLAST OSA study in patients with moderate to severe OSA, the Genio system received its European CE Mark in 2019. The Company is currently conducting the BETTER SLEEP study in Australia and New Zealand for therapy indication expansion, the DREAM IDE pivotal study for FDA approval and a post–marketing EliSA study in Europe to confirm the long–term safety and efficacy of the Genio system.
For more information, please visit www.nyxoah.com.

About Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University, located in Nashville "" Tennessee, USA, is a private research university offering a full range of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees.
For more information, please visit www.vanderbilt.edu.

Caution "" Genio is CE marked since 2019. Investigational device in the United States. Limited by U.S. federal law to investigational use in the United States.

1 Benjafield, Adam V et al. Estimation of the global prevalence and burden of obstructive sleep apnoea: a literature–based analysis. Lancet Respir Med 2019 Published Online July 9, 2019 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2213–2600(19)30198–5

2 Young T. et al: Sleep Disordered Breathing and Mortality: Eighteen–Year Follow–up of the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort, Sleep. 2008 Aug 1; 31(8): 1071""1078.