Was COVID-19 born in the United States? (part…

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Was COVID-19 born in the United States? (part 14)

Continued from: Was COVID-19 born in the United States? (part 13)

By Outsider

Remarks by President Trump at Signing of H.R.748, The CARES Act.

Issued on: March 27, 2020

Oval Office

4:10 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all very much. This is a very important day. I’ll sign the single-biggest economic relief package in American history and, I must say, or any other package, by the way. It’s twice as large as any relief ever signed. It’s $2.2 billion, but it actually goes up to 6.2 – potentially – billion dollars – trillion dollars. So you’re talking about 6.2 trillion-dollar bill. Nothing like that. And this will deliver urgently needed relief to our nation’s families, workers, and businesses. And that’s what this is all about.

And it got a 96 to nothing. And, I don’t know, what was the number in Congress?

PARTICIPANT: A voice vote.

THE PRESIDENT: A voice? It was fantastic.

PARTICIPANT: I think it was just as close.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s pretty amazing. That’s about the same thing. Right, Kevin?

LEADER MCCARTHY: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: So, that’s fantastic. But I want to thank Republicans and Democrats for coming together, setting aside their differences, and putting America first.

This legislation provides for direct payments to individuals and unprecedented support to small businesses. We’re going to keep our small businesses strong and our big businesses strong. And that’s keeping our country strong and our jobs strong.

This historic bill includes the following:

  • $300 billion in direct cash payments will be available to every American citizen earning less than $99,000 per year; $3,400 for a typical family of four. So a family of four: $3,400.
  • And then $350 billion in job retention loans for small businesses, with loan forgiveness available for businesses that continue paying their workers. The workers get paid.
  • Approximately $250 billion in expanded unemployment benefits. The average worker who has lost his or her job will receive 100 percent of their salary for up to four full months.

So, things like this have never happened in our country.

  • $500 billion in support for hard-hit industries, with a ban on corporate stock buybacks – we don’t let them buy back the stock; we don’t let that happen – and tough limits on executive compensation.
  • Over $100 billion to support our heroic doctors, nurses, and hospitals. And you see what’s happening. And I want to thank, while we’re here, also the incredible job that’s done by the Army Corps of Engineers and by FEMA. It’s been incredible. They did four hospitals in two days or three days, in New York. And they’re, like, incredible structures. What a job they’ve been doing. And they’re doing them all over the country.
  • $45 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund, supporting our state, local, and tribal leaders.
  • $27 billion for the development of vaccines, therapies, and other public health response efforts, including $16 billion to build up the Strategic National Stockpile with critical stockpiles. And I’m going to – we have tremendous supplies coming into the stockpile, and you’ll be seeing that and hearing about it in a little bit because we’re doing a news conference at 5:30 on what’s happening.

We’ve had tremendous results on the respirators. We’ve had great results on just about everything we’re talking about. Boeing just announced that they’re going to be making the plastic field shields – the actual shields, which are hard to come by, and they’re going to be making them by the thousands a week.

And the ventilators, which is probably the most difficult because it’s like – it’s like building a car – we will be announcing thousands of – are going to be built and we have them under contract and we have fast deliveries. As you know, we delivered thousands to New York. And unfortunately – they were delivered to a warehouse, which was good – unfortunately, they didn’t take them, but now they’re taking them. New York is now taking them and redistributing them around the areas that they need.

So you have also $3.5 billion to states to expand childcare benefits for healthcare workers, first responders, and others on the frontlines of this crisis, and $1 billion for securing supplies under the Defense Protection Act. And, as you know, I’ve enacted the act. We’ve used it three or four times. I pulled it back three times because the companies came through, in the end. They didn’t need the act. It’s been great leverage.

I have instituted it against General Electric. We thought we had a deal for 40,000 ventilators and, all of the sudden, the 40,000 came down to 6,000. And then they talked about a higher price than we were discussing, so I didn’t like it. So we did – we did activate it, with respect to General Motors. And hopefully, maybe we won’t even need the full activation. We’ll find out. But we need the ventilators.

I said hello today – I called him – a wonderful guy, Boris Johnson. As you know, he tested positive. And before he even said hello, he said, “We need ventilators.” I said, “Wow. That’s a big statement.” And hopefully, he’s going to be in good shape.

I just spoke to Angela Merkel, and she’s quarantined also. She is right now, for a period of two weeks, being forced to stay in her house. So this is just an incredible situation.

Last night, I spoke to President Xi. We talked about the experience that they had in China and all of the things that have taken place. And we learned a lot. They’ve had a very tough experience, and they’re doing well and he’s doing well. President Xi is doing very well. But we learned a lot and we have great communication together.

We’re going to be sent great data from China – things that happened that they see that – you know, they’ve had a – they’ve had an early experience, and we’re getting all of that information. Much of it has already been sent. It was sent yesterday and sent to our scientists to study. So we’ll have more on that also. We’ll be discussing that at 5:30.

I just want to thank the people behind me. They’ve been incredible friends. They’ve been warriors. They – there’s nobody tougher or smarter than the people standing alongside of me. And I think I want to start off by asking Mitch and then Kevin to speak, and then we’re going to go through a few of the folks in the room if they’d like to say something.

But, Mitch, I’d like – I’d love to say a few words because you – this man worked 24 hours a day for a long time. This is the result. It’s the biggest ever – ever approved in Congress: 6.2 bill- $6.2 trillion. So, you know, we used to get used to the billion. It used to be million, then it was billion, now it’s trillion. And it’s going to go a long way. It’s going to make a lot of people very happy.

Mitch McConnell, please.

LEADER MCCONNELL: Thank you, Mr. President. Let me just say this is a proud moment for our country, for the President. The Republicans and the Democrats all pulled together and passed the biggest bill in history in record time.

I also want to thank Kevin McCarthy and our leaders on the Republican side in the House who helped speed this through to passage. The American people needed this rescue package, they needed it quickly, and we delivered. It’s a proud moment for all of us. Mr. President, thanks for the opportunity to be here.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I’d love to shake your hand, but Anthony would get angry at me if I did that. (Laughter.) So I better not do it. I can’t – it’s so natural. I just want to go back and shake his hand.

They’ve done such an incredible job. Kevin, please.

LEADER MCCARTHY: Yeah, I do want to start. I want to thank all – the real – the real answer to America is: We’re listening to you. You do your part, and we’re going to do ours, and that’s exactly what’s happening today.

What Leader McConnell did was amazing. He made it bipartisan, bicameral. Everybody was involved. I wish we could have signed this earlier this week; maybe there wouldn’t be as many people who are out of work. But this will put people back to work.

I also want to thank Secretary Mnuchin. You’ve done an amazing job, and we thank you for that, and all the team that’s here.

Look, as I said in my speech, the virus is here. We didn’t ask for it. We didn’t invite it. We didn’t choose it. But we are going to defeat it together because we’re going to work together, and this is the first start of it. The hospitals will get money – the money they need. The small businesses will be able to hire their employees back. That is a grant; you don’t have to borrow from that place. The other businesses get a retention to keep your employees on. This has something for everything.

And to the task force and the Vice President, all the work that you’re doing with this President, this will be the needed resources you need as well. And thank you for that, and thank you for your leadership, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Very special.

Mike Pence? Mike? Could you please say something? You’ve been working very hard, in charge of our task force. And then I’d like to ask Steve to say a few words.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. President. Thanks for giving me the opportunity just to express all of our appreciation and the gratitude to the American people for the accomplishment that’s reflected in the legislation that you’ll sign in just a few moments.

You told the American people that we would do whatever it takes. You called on the Congress to step forward to make coronavirus testing free for every American, to make paid family leave available.

The Congress, with the leaders gathered around us here, stepped forward in a bipartisan fashion and delivered. But today, every American family, every American business, can know that help is on the way.

And I want to thank Leader McConnell for his yeoman’s work in really forging a bipartisan bill in the United States Senate. I want to thank Leader McCarthy for his great work. But as the President said, I also want to thank the Democrat and Republican leadership across the House and Senate. This is an American accomplishment. And, Mr. President, it’s exactly what you asked the Congress to deliver for the American people.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mike. And Steve Mnuchin, you know how hard he’s been working. And, Steve, please say a few words.

SECRETARY MNUCHIN: Mr. President, thank you very much for your leadership and for the Vice President’s leadership. You made it very clear to us, last week, we should think big, that this was a war on the virus, and that we should have the resources to protect American workers and American business.

And I’d like to thank the Senate. It was a great honor, Mitch, to work with you and everyone on a bipartisan basis to get this done. This is going to be a great thing for the American workers. And, Kevin McCarthy, thank you for all the work in the House did to pass this quickly.

So, at Treasury, as I’ve said, we are committed to move forward quickly, and we’re going to get money in people’s pockets quickly.

Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Great job, Steve. Gene? Please.

SECRETARY SCALIA: This is a great day for American workers, protecting American workers, American jobs. It’s been a hallmark of this presidency, and this bill today is another very important step in that direction. It includes unprecedented support for American workers who’ve lost their jobs, through no fault of their own because of this virus, and gives them, as near as we could, the same wage they would have gotten, through unemployment insurance if they’d been able to keep their jobs, for up to four months.

I think even more important, it includes $350 billion in loans for small business, but it’s structured in a way to incentivize them to keep their workers on payroll so that those loans could be forgiven at the end of the period.

And it comes on top of legislation the President asked – signed last week for paid leave for workers who have to be at home because of the virus. Paid leave reimbursed in full, dollar for dollar, to the employers. It’s the first federal paid leave law for the private sector ever. And that also was achieved on an unprecedented, bipartisan basis.

This is the third major bipartisan piece of legislation in three weeks – three bills, three weeks – to address this virus.

So again, I want to thank the President for his leadership, his commitment to American workers, the Vice President as well, and Leader McConnell, and also my colleague, Secretary Mnuchin who did work so hard to help you get this done.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Gene, very much.

Dr. Fauci, you may want to just say for a minute what hit the world. Something hit the world, and the world maybe will never be the quite same. But we’re going to make it a great place anyway. But certainly, you could maybe say a few words about it, please.

DR. FAUCI: Well, thank you, Mr. President. And I want to thank everyone involved in this. This is what America is all about: a bipartisan approach, with your leadership, to do something that’s sorely needed by the American people.

DR. Birx and I and all of our medical people here are fighting the virus directly. But the virus has an impact on the American people, both directly by illness and death, but also indirectly, because many of the things that we have to do to suppress the virus has a negative impact because of what we’re doing. To give them relief economically is absolutely essential.

So I feel really, really good about what’s happening today. Thank you all very much.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Tony. Thank you very much.

Deborah, perhaps you could say a few words or so about –

DR. BIRX: Well, thank you, Mr. President. Dr. Fauci covered it very well. As many of you know, I worked for him and he was my mentor 40 years ago.

I think whenever we start with one of these very serious diseases and a pandemic, the President’s first goal was ensuring the health of the American people, and that’s why we put out these very strong guidance.

It’s been a pleasure to work with the economic team here because they understand data in the same way. Economic data and health data is very similar in how you have to interpret it in a very granular way. And I think recognizing that the health of the American people is first, but the economic value of the nation is also critical.

And I just want to thank all of you for what you’ve done for the American people today.

THE PRESIDENT: Great job you’re doing too. Thank you.

Kevin, please.

REPRESENTATIVE BRADY: So just 20 days ago, I don’t know that anyone could have imagined how hard we’ve been hit medically or economically. But 20 days ago, I don’t think anyone could have imagined Congress pulling together so quickly and so forcefully behind what the President identified we needed for this country. This is a proud moment for all of us. And it’s just an example of what leadership can provide here in the White House, and then how we can respond as a Congress.

So thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership.

THE PRESIDENT: And I’m just saying, as Kevin is saying that, 20 days ago – a couple of days longer than that, maybe – we had a smooth-running, beautiful machine. We had the greatest economy in the history of our country. We had the highest stock price we’ve ever seen. It went up, I think, 151 times during the course of the presidency. And then we got hit by the invisible enemy, and we got hit hard. But it wasn’t just us, it was 151 countries, I think, as of the – as of this morning.

And you call Germany and speak to Angela – she’s in quarantine. And as you know, Boris was diagnosed that he’s positive. And all of the things that are happening, it’s hard to believe what’s gone on just in a short period of time.

And because of the talent behind me and lots of other talent in government, what we’ve done – this is a big part of it, obviously, but not the biggest part. Everybody has pulled together. Our nation has pulled together. The spirit is incredible. The people have pulled together more than anyone and better than anybody. And they’re doing really, really well.

But just to think how life can change where you go, 20 to 22 days ago, everything is perfect, we’re looking forward. I’m saying, “When are we going to hit 30,000? I want 30,000.” That means more jobs and more everything. And then, one day, we get hit with this thing that nobody ever heard of before. Nobody ever even heard of before. And now we’re fighting a different battle.

But I really think, in a fairly short period of time, because of what they’ve done and what everyone has done, I really think we’re going to be stronger than ever. And we’ll be protected from a lot of this. A lot of the things, Anthony, that we’ve done now – that we’re doing now – are going to protect us in the future if this should happen again.

DR. FAUCI: Absolutely.

THE PRESIDENT: From testing to so many other –

DR. FAUCI: Vaccines.

THE PRESIDENT: Even stockpiles. Right?

DR. FAUCI: And vaccines.

THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, the vaccines, hopefully. And vaccines, cures, therapeutics – whatever you want to call it – it’s a lot of progress. And I think on that score, I think we’re going to do a lot of progress on vaccines. We’re making, perhaps, a lot of progress on cures and therapeutics. We’ll be letting you know.

Anybody else have anything? Greg, please. Go ahead, fellas.

REPRESENTATIVE WALDEN: I would just say, I’ve never seen you shy away from a challenge. Your leadership and your policies and this great team brought America this enormous economy. And guess what? You get to do it again. This bill is the next step in that, and we can build back this economy with your leadership and with the healthcare team you’ve got here too. We’re doing the right thing for the American people, and they know that. I can tell you that from the ground. It’s not easy. It’s not easy.

THE PRESIDENT: No, it’s not.

REPRESENTATIVE WALDEN: We don’t want to shelter in place, as Americans. We want to be out, especially northwest.

THE PRESIDENT: Yeah.

REPRESENTATIVE WALDEN: But we know we have to do this for the safety of our relatives and families and our community and our country. So thanks for your leadership –

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.

REPRESENTATIVE WALDEN: – and the great team you’ve assembled.

THE PRESIDENT: Appreciate it very much.

REPRESENTATIVE CHABOT: On behalf of small businesses, they’re the backbone of the American economy. About half the people that work in America work for a small business, and they’re hurting out there right now. I’m from Ohio. I’m the ranking member of the House Small Business Committee. And back there, nonessential small businesses are shut down.

Without this legislation, it’s questionable whether they would reopen. Because of this legislation, they now have a great chance of that. And those people that work for small businesses, who are shuttered now, will be paid. That’s really important. This wouldn’t have passed without your leadership, Mr. President. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. And, you know, Eric worked so hard. You all know Eric. And he was at Steve’s side the whole way. And where is our man? Do I see Larry? Yeah, Larry. The two of them. How about Eric and then Larry say a couple of words and (inaudible.)

Mr. UELAND: Well, thank you very much, Mr. President. I really appreciate it, and Mr. Vice President, as well. So you encouraged your team to be bold, be brave, and go big. And we certainly delivered today. (Laughter.) $6.2 trillion is tremendous. So we’ve made sure that we can reassure Americans that their paycheck is protected and that their earnings are protected. We’ve made sure that we can provide significant reinforcement to the American economy as a result of your leadership.

And, finally, looking ahead to address the virus, we’ve included significant resources in order to ensure that those therapies and ultimately that vaccine can come online as quickly as possible. So, protecting the public health and protecting the economic health of America is what you’ve directed us to do. And together, with the team, we’ve worked hard to deliver today.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. And Steve is going to work very hard on getting the money out quickly, and hopefully it can be distributed very quickly, especially when they have some old computer equipment that they have to use. But you’re going to work on that very hard.

SECRETARY MNUCHIN: We are indeed.

THE PRESIDENT: Larry, please. Larry Kudlow.

MR. KUDLOW: Oh, thanks, sir. Just hats off to Mitch McConnell who did an amazing job, and House leadership as well. And I agree with the bipartisanship. I want to give special thanks to my friend Steven Mnuchin, who I think did an extraordinary job. We were up there helping him out in one spot or another. But he’s indefatigable and got it done.

And I’ll just say this, Mr. President: A few months ago, this economy was roaring and we’ve hit this – literally, this bug, this virus. And we will deal with it. And I think the assistance bill here, which does have growth incentives, will help lead us back to a very strong economic rebound before this year is over.

Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: I think that too. I think we’re going to have a tremendous rebound at the end of the year – toward the end of the year. I think we’re going to have a rebound like we have never seen before. Even now it wants to rebound. You can see it, feel it. It wants to rebound so badly.

And, you know, we’ve had those really big – I guess, the biggest-ever stock market surge two days ago. And yesterday, it was great. Three biggest days in the history of the stock market. It wants to rebound so badly, but we have to get rid of the bug, we have to get rid of the virus.

Now, I’m going to sign this, and it’s a great honor – $6.2 trillion. I’ve never signed anything with a “T” on it. (Laughter.) I don’t know if I can handle this one, Mitch. (Laughter.) We can’t chicken out at this point, can we? (Laughter.) I don’t think so, huh?

All right. Thank you all.

(The CARES Act is signed.)

THE PRESIDENT: Good. I wanted them to be a nice signature. (Applause.) Come on, fellas. Come on over here. Elaine. What a job she’s doing with transportation. How’s transportation? Okay?

SECRETARY CHAO: Fine. You always talk about the supply chain.

THE PRESIDENT: I do.

SECRETARY CHAO: It’s really important.

THE PRESIDENT: I do.

SECRETARY CHAO: This bill is going to help the supply chain and the workers.

THE PRESIDENT: Anthony? Thank you. Thanks, Tony, very much. Bob Lighthizer, thank you very much. Bob was a little less involved in this. He’s too busy making trade deals.

Okay? You have one? You definitely have to have one. Go ahead. You’re all set.

Thank you, everybody. So we’re going to have a 5:30 news conference in the same location. Seems to be doing quite well. And we appreciate everything. And we really appreciate the fairness, at least from most of the press. We really do. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Q Mr. President, there was that rare moment of agreement today between you and Senator Kerry over –

THE PRESIDENT: That’s right.

Q – this issue with Massie. Can you expand a bit on that?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, he made a little joke about a man named Congressman Massie. I thought he was totally out of line – Congressman Massie. Because of that, I guess a lot of people had to come back, and they had to go into a place, which, frankly, we’re not supposed to be at, you know, in light of – of what we’re doing with Deborah and Tony and all of the professionals.

So people had to come back, and just no reason for it. So John Kerry made a little joke out of it, and I agreed with his joke. And I said, I never knew he had that kind of a personality. But we actually put it up, and he was right.

Okay, we’ll see you in a couple of minutes, folks. Thank you very much.

END

4:33 P.M. EDT

WhiteHouse.gov

 

To be continued…

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The cycle must be broken

By Jennifer Michels

On the 10th August 1987 Australia announced the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The final report and recommendations were signed on 15th April 1991. It has now been 30 years since those pages were signed and submitted for review by the government at the time. 30 years on we have lost almost 500 more people, without any new changes being brought into effect to minimise the high number of incarcerations nor the loss of lives. Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Ken Wyatt has often said; “The cycle must be broken,” but still we see no changes that would prevent these deaths nor reduce the number of individuals criminalised by the justice system.

Listening to an episode of The Quicky Podcast I was shocked to learn that Australians often suggest they are not racist, yet we are one of the few countries who do not adequately track racial profiling. These services do not release information regarding the racial breakdown of their interactions with communities. 2020 saw two instances where this data was released to the public. A judge in NSW requested police provide the information to the court. The data they produced showed that individuals of African or Middle Eastern background were 2.5 times more likely to be stopped than other nationalities. WA Police released data to The Guardian under the FOI Act showing police officers were 3.2 times more likely to stop and charge a someone of Aboriginal background than automated systems such as traffic cameras.

These two cases show a clear bias towards certain races, who have obviously been targeted by police officers. Tracking this data and releasing the information to the public would go a long way to providing accountability and correcting the racially discriminatory actions perpetrated by those who’s motto is to “Serve and Protect.” Similarly, courts releasing statistics on the sentences handed down to the different nationalities would show where one race is more heavily prosecuted than other races for similar crimes.

At the time of the Royal Commission the statistics showed 14% of the population inside the correctional system were Aboriginal People. Today that figure has more than doubled. We have lobbied for a National Indigenous Target for years, and governments have committed to do this but none have provided any information regarding how these targets will be reached. Many of the Aboriginal People I know and have spoken to believe the Royal Commission made no impact on their lives or their communities. They tell me there was no point in the commission because 30 years on and there are still no clear indicators regarding what recommendations were implemented or to what level they applied (in full, part or noted). In my own opinion the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody is just another colonial document, as Marcia Langton has said about the Constitution.

Since the Royal Commission it has been revealed that all too many Aboriginal deaths in custody have resulted from a lack of duty of care. Such as the case of Ms Day in Victoria who died after being left fatally injured on the floor for three hours. Nobody has been held accountable for this neglect of duty of care. Now if this was the public sector each and every individual who had neglected their duty of care would not simply have been sacked; they would have faced criminal charges for the breach. Nonetheless, when the neglect to duty of care involves an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Person who dies as a result of the justice system, nobody is held accountable. Not even the individuals who have been found guilty of these breaches. This to me is extremely telling, and it shows how much racial profiling occurs and is completely and utterly overlooked by the “powers that be” in this country!

Media have a great deal of responsibility for these issues. Take for instance the 11-year-old boy discussed on ABC’s The Drum on 12/4/2021. A newspaper headline showed on the episode that read; “Boys sad end to a life of trouble.” Instead of portraying him as an 11-year-old boy, media painted him as an intentional criminal: Listing a range of accounts of assault and other crimes such as burglaries that didn’t happen. At the time of his death he had a police curfew and needed to be home by 7 pm. The same night he died he had been at the Police and Community Youth Club. He took his own life that night in his bedroom. Twenty-four-years-ago he had faced racism and discrimination by the police, however an inquiry suggested it was not severe enough to have forced him to take his own life. He would be 35 if he had not been racially profiled by those who ‘serve and protect’.

Indigenous People are not innately criminal; we have something called the Lore of Obligation that obligates our people to protect regardless what it is we are protecting. This includes upholding legal requirements. However, we have faced unfair persecution at the hands of the Colonial System for 233 years. Changing the theme of these interactions should not be on mob; we are the victims in this instance. Responsibility lies with the justice system, as they are the ones who have created this narrative of criminalising the Indigenous Peoples. Perpetrators are responsible for making recompense, not the victims.

The fact that the NT Government have numerous occasions where SOLELY Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth have been in their detention centres should tell the country a lot. Instead, we are faced with racist remarks such as; “They should stop breaking the law and they won’t get arrested.” Or we have politicians like Amanda Stoker who laughed at Senator Dodson while he discussed the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in the Senate. But when an Indigenous Person is arrested for something a non-Indigenous Person is not arrested for, then there is a clear issue in the system. More so in the racist opinions shared by Australians regarding the incarceration rates of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nations. Yes, this shame falls upon the heads of all Aussies, whether they care to accept it or not!

 

 

Time and again governments create new programs that will further criminalise the Indigenous Nations of these lands. The history of the police with mobs has always included a large degree of racially discriminatory people and processes. Just this year QLD instigated a new program that will see youth walk around with electronic monitoring systems, instead of providing services that will prevent those youths from committing the crimes they have been found guilty of. This Government has chosen to further criminalise individuals over providing services to support these families and prevent the criminal behaviour from being a ‘thing’ for them.

Amy Thunig discussed on The Drum that Indigenous students are excluded from formal education in the form of suspension. In QLD 25% of fixed term and permanent exclusions are Indigenous children when they represent merely 10% of the school population. In NSW 25% of short or long-term suspensions are Indigenous children, who comprise simply 8% of the NSW student population. These statistics start in kindergarten and show how quick Australia is to hyper-surveil and over-punish Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

 

Image from solidarity.net.au

 

Ms Thunig went on to explain that NSW Government set up the Suspect Target Management Program, where they identified a list of individuals they thought may commit an offence. Nobody on the list had committed an offence but they suspected they would, which led the system to stop and interrogate these individuals for not committing any criminal activities. The youngest person on that list was a nine-year-old, which we all know is under the age of criminal responsibility in this country, yet the NSW Police Service still attended this nine-year-old’s home and integrated them. Indigenous People make up a total of 5.6% of the youth population in NSW, 51% of the children identified on that list were Indigenous. This is racial profiling – aka racism – on the part of the police system!

Before I go, let this fact sink in: since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody 474 people have died. That, statistically, is one person a month since the recommendations were released 30-years-ago. ONE A MONTH FOR THIRTY-YEARS! So before you claim we simply need to stop breaking laws, please think long and hard about the system you are defending in place of the lives lost!

How can Australians say human rights are high on the list of priorities in this country, when we clearly only value those rights for the colonial side of this country? Quite simply we cannot value human rights, not while we tell the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders they deserve to die for crimes nobody else would pay with their lives for. Sadly, until Colonial Australia acknowledges this fact, they will continue to fail at equality.

I say it over and again, we are only the “Lucky Country” for Colonial Australia! We are only a first world country for the same portion of the population. Until we behave like a first world country we do not deserve the title!

 

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Documents show NSW police changed their minds over Porter investigation

By TBS Newsbot

CW: This piece discusses sexual violence and suicide.

According to released documents, the South Australian police asked their colleagues in NSW to take a statement regarding the alleged sexual assault involving Christian Porter; one that the NSW police refused.

Additionally, it seems that they made this decision without speaking to the alleged victim.

MP David Shoebridge, who filed a motion to release the documents, said that the NSW police “made two separate decisions to delay taking a statement, neither of which appears to have had a valid basis.”

As Paul Karp of The Guardiannoted, the documents “also show the NSW police rejected a request from Porter’s accuser to take her statement via Skype and alternatives were not pursued because the alleged victim seemed ‘resigned’ to Covid-19 interruptions to travel delaying it until September.”

As the documents state, in February 2020, the alleged victim was in Sydney, meeting with her legal representatives. At “short notice”, the NSW offered her to make a formal statement. She instead opted for the police to visit her at home, so she could have a support person with her.

According to the documents, on March 10, NSW detectives made an application to visit her in Adelaide.

Per the documents published by The Guardian, the application was supported by the co-ordinator of the child abuse and sex crimes squad who said that it “involves a very high-profile and a detailed statement is required … there are circumstances relating to this victim that in my view requires 2X investigators present,” he said.

On March 13, the application was rejected, as the deputy commissioner of investigations and counter-terrorism claimed there was “insufficient detail … to justify why this travel cannot be deferred in accordance with … restricting interstate travel to operational necessity.”

The alleged victim took her life in June of 2020.

In March, the NSW police prosecutors determined, seemingly very quickly and without questioning Porter, that they would not be proceeding with any more investigations – let alone criminal charges. As far as they were concerned, the matter is now closed.

In March, Emeritus Professor of Law, Rick Sarre, explained how the NSW police were able to make such a ruling so quickly. He wrote:

“… why do NSW police have the final determination and how could they move so quickly? Well, the alleged victim was South Australian and the alleged perpetrator was Western Australian, but the assault was alleged to have taken place in NSW. Hence, it fell to that state’s police to make an investigation and consider their options.

“At the early stages of any investigation, police are the “gatekeepers” for decisions that might lead to a prosecution. The guidelines used by police prosecutors are straightforward: they decide whether the evidence is capable of leading to a successful conviction and whether it is in the public interest for a prosecution to proceed.

“They do not, and cannot, go on “fishing” expeditions. They cannot launch a prosecution hoping something will emerge down the track that might lead to the conviction of the accused.

“In this case, we can assume the police decided the fact the complainant was deceased (and could not give evidence) and that the alleged offence happened more than three decades ago provided too little evidence to go on. In their statement, the police used the term “admissible evidence”. By that, one can assume, they meant any hearsay evidence that was not capable of being corroborated could not be taken into account.”

Sarre also noted that:

“… it may seem to many that the idea of deciding not to proceed without questioning the alleged perpetrator was a little odd, but the discretion attached to pre-trial decision-making is broad.

“It is important to note that the inability of a complainant to give evidence for any reason (including death) is not the end of the matter. I know of no jurisdiction in Australia where a prosecution will be abandoned solely on the lack of a complainant’s testimony.

“That was not always the case. In days gone by, once a complainant withdrew his or her complaint, a prosecution was inevitably withdrawn.

“The rules of evidence have also been reformed to make it easier for prosecutors to lead at trial with evidence of the propensity of an accused to commit offences of a sexual nature. Nevertheless, the chances of a prosecution in a sexual offence case leading to a conviction remain slim.

“As criminologist Kathleen Daly pointed out a decade ago, of 100 complaints recorded by the police in Australia at that time, only 28% proceeded past the police to prosecution, 20% were finally prosecuted at trial, and only 11.5% resulted in convictions to any sexual offence. It would not be too much different now.”

In the time since the allegations came to light, Porter has launched a defamation case against the ABC and has been reshuffled out of the attorney general’s portfolio.

Despite the above, the South Australian coroner could consider that the alleged sexual assault could be part of an inquest into the woman’s death, but they’ve not yet made a decision.

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.

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Be Human

By 2353NM

About 12 months ago, we were asking if the world could ever return to ‘normal’ post the pandemic. Some were looking for equitable economic reform, others were looking for significant environmental reforms and others were looking for improvement in an area close to their personal experience or belief systems. Most of us were hoping for a ‘new normal’ where the world would somehow address the issues that each of us are passionate about.

Unfortunately there seems to be a large group of people that are happy with the status quo and can’t wait to get back there. You could argue that Prime Minister Morrison is amongst this group, with his ‘gas lead’ recovery, social security payments returning to almost pre-pandemic levels, a lack of reform to industrial relations, continual victimisation of some refugees and ongoing corruption (which is really what ‘pork-barrelling’ is). Despite this, and much to Morrison’s consternation and dismay – probably because he isn’t controlling the narrative – there are signs of a ‘new normal’ in an area that no one saw coming.

At the end of January Morrison presented the Australian of the Year award to Grace Tame who was a leading campaigner for the repeal of Tasmania’s law prohibiting sexual assault victims from openly speaking about the violence inflicted on them. In February, Morrison’s tone-deaf comment that he had to be told by ‘Jen’ (his wife) that there was a good reason for the moral outrage over the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins in the Defence Minister’s Private Office, demonstrated how little attention he paid when announcing the Australian of the Year. You have to wonder if he read the brief (after all, he admits he didn’t read the claims against former Attorney-General Christian Porter before he sent it to the Police).

While Morrison’s comment will never rank up there with former Prime Minister Gillard’s ‘misogyny speech‘ it has reopened the discussion about sexual violence in Australia, despite Morrison ‘spinning’ his hardest to make the issue retreat in importance. As The Guardian article linked in this paragraph shows, the political reporters at the time of Gillard’s speech, some who still hold jobs in the press gallery today, completely ‘misread the room’ then as well.

By March, the media were discussing an increase in women discussing sexual assaults that were perpetrated on them, in some cases decades earlier. Higgins found the courage to share her story again and again of being raped by a senior male staffer in the Defence Minister’s personal office, together with the events afterwards that suggested to Higgins that the whole thing was going to be covered up. We also saw thousands of people parade down streets across the nation to draw people’s attention to the sexual abuse and violence perpetuated predominately on women.

Grace Tame has been using her fame wisely to discuss her story, with appearances at the National Press Club and television including ABCTV’s QandA and Network 10’s The Project. Brittany Higgins is continuing to tell her story, despite the probable personal cost of never working for a Coalition Minister again. When a former student of a private school in Sydney, Chanel Contos, asked on social media for stories from victims of abuse and violence perpetrated by school students, she was inundated. One of the private boys’ schools named in the testimonies of current and ex-school students was Brisbane Boys College. Their School Captain spoke on assembly on 18 March and probably scored his first by-line in The Guardian with an article entitledStop being boys, be human

Boys, this speech today is different, and it is the hardest one I have ever had to write. Not because it is difficult, but because it is heartbreaking.

Too many of my friends, our friends, too many of my loved ones, your loved ones, and too many women around Australia are victims of sexual assault.

The narrative needs to change. Boys, it feels like no matter where we look, this issue is not at the forefront of everyone’s mind, but why not? Why is it like this?

and

Let me tell you the numbers. Every single week a man kills his partner or former partner. Before the age of 16, one in five women experience some form of sexual abuse. And 97% of sexual offences are from men.

This is not solely an issue of protecting women but an issue of educating men. Stop being boys, be human.

Every person in this room must not just be an advocate for equality, but in our every action and deed we have to be proactive in stopping the abuse. This starts with putting an end to slurs and derogatory comments about women. It means standing up to any man, no matter how big they are, if we see it happening. And we have to keep our mates accountable, no matter where it may be.

The full speech is available here:

 

 

In some cases women are abusive and violent to men. As Brisbane Boys College School Captain Mason Black suggests, it is a far less common occurrence then men inflicting violence on women.

The ‘new normal’ are people like Grace Tame, Brittany Higgins, Chanel Contos and Mason Black who are calling out disgusting behaviour that has been swept under the carpet for far too long in Australia. While world peace, equitable economics and a green revolution would have been beneficial outcomes from the pandemic, if treating all others as humans rather than potential conquests is ‘all’ we get – we’ve done alright.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
Putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword

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Morrison’s undermining of sexual violence

By Jennifer Michels

We know the men of Australia are sick of hearing about sexual violence, but quite frankly that’s too bad for them. Women are sick of experiencing these crimes and it is high time Aussie males faced these ugly truths.

Within my circles I have not yet met a woman who can say she has not been assaulted, harassed, or targeted in one manner or another. Yes, that’s right guys, not a single one who has not experienced some form of sexual violence at the hands of Aussie men. Lately the cries of #EnoughIsEnough have been a resounding roar, and I couldn’t be happier with that news.

Sadly, little action has truly be seen on this front. Yes, Scott Morrison has decided to finally act on the Respect@Work report. But then he made what has become his typical move when dealing with sensitive topics. At almost the same time as he tabled the details of the changes, he held a press conference. Leaving no time for anyone to read the reference material prior to presenting. Just like he did when he announced the report from the Inquiry into Aged Care. This time he and Michaelia Cash said we will do this, and we will do that, and all will be fixed with regards to sexual violence in our society. I don’t call him Half-Job-Morrison without reason. Every policy released by his Government seems to, in my opinion, leak like a sift.

Discussing the recommendations accepted by the government Laura Tingle is not backwards in coming forward. She writes in her article titled The government’s credentials for dealing with COVID are turning to dust amid vaccine confusion “It took some time to get clarification that the act would be tweaked to make clear that politicians and judges aren’t exempt from the act, but that in itself would not create a sackable offence, even though it might open them up to civil proceedings by victims.”

Personally, I do not think it is right for someone guilty of – or allegedly guilty of – perpetrating sexual violence to work within Parliament nor the justice system. Considering 51% of the population are women, I dare say the Government would receive a resounding “yes” if they asked Australian’s whether they wanted a Minister to be sacked for sexual violence towards staff within Parliament House. The fact we have to wait four years before we can vote someone out for committing crimes like these is absurd. I would prefer to have the authority to sack anyone found guilty of sexual harassment the moment they are found guilty. Especially when they do so within what should be the pillars of Australian society. Instead, the Parliament of Australia has become something straight out of a tabloid news column. Except Aussie women have made it more than obvious they have the proof in numbers that sexual violence is a heavy part of our society.

Time the men of this country come to terms with the hard truths and finally judge themselves with the same standards they place upon the women the stand alongside. Time they all practised what they preached. Men who witness sexual harassment in the workplace and say nothing, their silence is a mechanism that enables this behaviour to continue. This silence makes them complicit in the crime. Women are harassed for their outfits and looks, diminished by their co-workers based upon their gender. We have for decades suffered the injustices of being raped within the workplace at a rate of 1 in 3. Is this worthy of the society we wish to be? Are these facts synonymous with what should be “the Lucky Country” as we call ourselves? I say all the time, Australia is only lucky for some.

How can the men of this country say they are ready to face these crimes, when our own Prime Minister uses political gaslighting tactics towards victims of sexual violence? And does so on the international stage provided to that position. When we have had a man win the position of Prime Minister after using the words “Ditch the Witch” and “Julia is Bob Brown’s Bitch”. How can men suggest they are ready to accept these crimes against the women of our society as wrong?

One in five women in Australia “have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.” Given that we women make up 51% of the population, consequently if we are speaking mathematically, 5% of 49 means that 2.45% of the Australian males are perpetrators of sexual violence. These statistics do not take into account the various other forms of violence, but this data is not as easily accessible in our current system. But when people like me cannot find a single woman who has not been sexually violated, odds are the statistics showing the percentage of males who commit these crimes are much higher than 2.45%.

Consent has been discussed over and over again of late, it’s clear that many men do not understand the concept of what consent entails. But this confuses me. As a mother I teach my eight- and nine-year-olds the basis of gaining consent. They must ask each other if they want to play a game, or if they want what the other is holding. The fact that grown adults cannot understand what my young children can understand is completely and utterly mind boggling. Did Oz grow up without a moral compass? It seems so.

Well guys, the basis is that you must know with absolute certainty the other person is happy with your behaviour and actions. Body language is a key indicator. Is she pulling her upper body away from you (i.e. leaning in the opposite direction) then she’s not keen on how close you are to her? Is she looking away from you more than she is at you? Then she is more than likely looking for an escape. Has she used short one worded answers to your uninvited questions? She more than likely doesn’t want to continue the conversation.

Until the Australian male stops toxic masculinity in its tracks, Australia will fail the test of upholding equal human rights. The Lucky Country will remain lucky merely to some, and we will be condemned by our international neighbours. Australia’s shortcomings are many, before we can truly claim to be a “first world country” we must behave like one.

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The Gas Cabal Exposed

By David C. Paull

This government’s championing of a ‘gas-lead recovery’ for Australia in response to the COVID-19 pandemic sounds reasonable and pro-active to many in the public. But the blue-print for this Plan goes back further several years and as this article will show, was borne out of a desire by the gas sector to stay relevant amid growing evidence of harm to communities and the environment by this sector. The COVID-19 crisis and the economic hit Australia has endured has provided the perfect cover for this Plan to be dusted off, refined and rolled out for public consumption with the glitter of government sanction. But in doing so the Gas Cabal has revealed themselves in this last attempt to hijack the economy.

As previous revelations have shown, corruption lurks at the core of the gas sector who seem to have been the favoured child by Australian politicians and economists since they opened up the onshore Queensland gas-fields. From the start the mantra has been ‘gas is clean’, ‘gas is a transition fuel from coal’, ‘gas provides jobs and infrastructure for regions’. The fact we have now two ex-gas sector heavies parachuted into the Climate Change Authority does not change the growing amount of evidence of the profound impacts the sector has on greenhouse emissions – but is a revealing move.

Grant King has spent most of his time leading onshore gas development in Queensland with the Australian Pacific LNG joint venture, as head of Origin until he resigned in 2016. Before that he spent time with AGL, Boral and Contact Energy, APPEA (the leading lobby group for the gas sector), and the Energy Supply Association of Australia (who later rebranded as the Energy Users Association, in the minds of the Gas Cartel, users and suppliers are the same thing). King then took up the position as President of the Business Council of Australia (BCA), which he held to his recent appointment, at one point leading its ‘Infrastructure and Sustainable Growth Committee’. This committee was heavy with representatives from gas, aluminium and infrastructure companies, such as Origin, Santos, APA, AGL, Shell, BP, BG Group, Lend Lease and some of their financial backers, HSBC, Meryll Lynch and Macquarie Group.

There is no report from this committee available and any links are no longer found on the BCA website, but the composition of this committee indicate a likely intention to link Australia’s economic development with a growing gas sector.

But what about the greenhouse credentials of gas? Here’s where our second parachute into the Climate Change Authority comes in, Susie Smith. Like King, Smith has been a long-term employee of the gas industry in Australia, holding positions with Santos, more recently as their ‘Manager of Climate Change and Sustainability’ and has been the CEO of the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network (AIGN) since March 2017, a mainly gas sector lobby group. Prior to this she was the Chairperson, representing Santos for over 13 years with the Association. Their goal is to ensure that their sector is a key player in any policy debate on energy and climate change and that Australia and business in Australia require a ‘differential’ and ‘fair’ approach to meeting carbon abatement targets.

Of course, even better if you can actually provide significant carbon abatement measures which would help justify a future use for gas. Such is the contention from Smith and King, who co-incidentally, co-authored a report only last year for the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, as part of an expert panel convened to look specifically at additional sources of ‘low cost abatement.’

And they found them, but not without a significant cost. What is being proposed is a ‘goal orientated co-investment program’, in other words, industry with its hand out. Remarkable when you consider the low levels of tax paid, royalty holidays and levels of public subsidy that has been thrown at this sector over the years. What technologies are we looking at? You don’t have to go through the report far to see the key examples they site are carbon capture and storage, industrial process heating and ‘hydrogen fuels for heavy vehicles’. And you don’t have to have a crystal ball to see that these sentiments are likely to be soon coming from our re-vamped Climate Change Authority. But what we won’t be hearing is the industry’s desire to greenwash their figures on fugitive emissions or their desire to avoid taking Scope 3 emissions into account.

King and Smith are trusted operators for the big players in the gas sector who have major expansions planned in the Northern Territory and Queensland, but the other cohort of gas up-and-comers are also being looked after. Particularly through Neville Power’s appointment to the COVID-19 Commission, now looking more like an unaccountable quasi-arm of government. His gas exploration company Strike Energy is one of several relative newcomers to the sector, such as Beach Energy and pipeline operators wanting to get a foothold like Vista and Epic. These companies are desperate for more greenfield onshore development or their future will be very short. Beach Energy is probably confident of getting some results, due in part to the ownership by Kerry Stokes, someone who is used to getting what he wants.

The COVID-19 Committee’s gas recovery plan owes a lot to that other special advisor, Australian and corporate idol, Andrew Nicholas Liveris AO. His appointment as a global trotting special energy and economic advisor to the both the Obama and Trump administrations and the Saudi King gave him all the credentials he needed to be picked by the Prime Minister. He is also Vice-chair of the Worley Services board, one of the biggest mining and petroleum service providers in the world, a company likely to benefit from any gas recovery.

His messages to the world are what made his Dow Chemical Company a corporate leader; diversify, value-add and cut regulation. Messages well received in Australia, as this is what it will take to make gas appear more rational, feed into other industries like bricks and cement, fertilizer and hydrogen production, despite each with its own level of additional greenhouse emissions.

Dow Chemical was also contracted to write an energy futures discussion paper by the US Study Centre in 2018. For those who don’t know the US Study Centre is subsidized by the American Australian Association, a pro-American business lobby, set up in 1948 by Sir Keith Murdoch, the same year he also helped set up the Institute of Public Affairs. Among other big names like Pratt and Murdoch we find Mr Liveris, currently a patron of the Association. The paper states in relation to Australia’s future energy market:

“… Institutional arrangements and property rights, free markets, infrastructure development and regulatory and policy settings all play an important role. The architecture of Australian’s energy markets also require reform, if not transformation. Get the institutional and policy settings right, and the market will transform physical abundance into economic abundance and put downward pressure on energy prices and emissions.”

That is of course assuming vast amounts of new gas are opened up, not that there should be any impairment if we follow the Trump lead and demolish environmental regulation completely. What this paper doesn’t mention are the environmental, social and greenhouse costs, but then again neither does the Morrison Government.

Looks like this is it. The Gas Cabal’s final roll of the dice, and it couldn’t be any more stacked in their favour. But Australia isn’t the US, quite yet, arguably, they are too late to save the gas sector from impending market collapse and despite all the rhetoric, it is looking increasingly like the gas emperor has no clothes in this rapidly changing energy sector.

 

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The unsung heroines of #March4Justice

Despite protestations to the contrary by mainstream media and the Liberal government, Twitter is a force for good.

When word of a now infamous tweet spread, asking whether women could circle Parliament in protest at the misogyny and rape allegations emanating from the Liberal Government, hundreds of female volunteers from around Australia rallied to the call.

Within days women from all walks of life and from all corners of the country came together as one – to organise, build and promote Australia’s biggest female-led protest Australia has seen in decades.

These unsung heroines swung into action from March 1st and didn’t stop until March 15th came around.

In a mere fortnight, the volunteer women pulled off a history making event. A project like this would normally take at least 6 months of work. Many of the volunteers were activists, many were not, some had never been to a protest before in their lives, several were themselves survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence, many were triggered by the memories the Brittany Higgins and the alleged Christian Porter rape horror story brought up, but they were all prepared to go to great lengths to ensure March4Justice was the success it was.

Their efforts paid off because by March 15th the phrase and hashtag #March4Justice had imprinted itself firmly on the nation’s psyche. Approximately 100,000 Australians marched for justice across 2 days – Sunday 14th (in Perth and Cairns) and Monday 15th March elsewhere around Australia – with the message being spread throughout the land that “enough is enough.” History was made on the Ides of March (15th March) in Canberra, and around 50 other locations around the nation.

At the centre of the national volunteer team were the women behind the social media. A group of amazing professional women worked around the clock to spread the message of March4Justice. Without them who would have known that this massive event was being organised?

Within 2 weeks they had built a following across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat of well over 65k across the various platforms, with a reach of 460k on FB alone.

I headed up the social media team. I consider myself a passionate human rights activist, and when I was invited to lead the social media team, I was only too happy to use my marketing skills and experience to do so. I put my small business (www.templesandmarkets.com.au) on hold and my other activist work (Reclaim the News) on hold and worked an average of 18-hour days for 2 weeks. My objective was to get as many people as possible from around the country to the protests, and if they couldn’t attend, to encourage them to support the movement. The social media team created and encouraged engagement across all social media platforms and answered an endless stream of follower and media messages that were coming through the Facebook page in particular.

My gratitude and admiration runs deep for the women I worked alongside with on the social team. We all gave up time with our families and our paid work and other responsibilities for the March4Justice cause. What a ride we all went on. The team, none of whom knew each other before M4J, will remain lifelong friends. We all faced daily trolling including unwarranted and cruel accusations of racism and transphobia, as well as being faced with tragic victim and survivor stories that were coming through to us on social media message platforms. None of us are counsellors so inevitably this took a heavy toll on our own wellbeing.

Judith’s Whyimarch video:

 

 

Claudia Zappia may be a familiar name for many. Sydney based actor, singer, dancer Claudia was one of the very first volunteers to put her hand up for content creation and social media management too. Claudia lives with chronic illness – EDS, a connective tissue disorder autoimmune disease and she is also a mentor for other EDS sufferers from around the world.

Claudia rallied a team of incredible creatives like herself to build up an Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat following for the movement. She live-streamed the march to followers from Canberra.

Her health has deteriorated since giving up time for the movement, but she is so proud of what she and the other volunteers achieved.

Claudia’s Whyimarch video:

 

 

Marcella Brassett was the campaign lead for March4Justice. Marcella has 15 years of professional experience in activist campaigns. She works for Australia’s largest independent not for profit who support and empower people seeking asylum and refugees. Marcella was at the forefront of the nationwide campaign. She wrote the campaign strategy and communications plan and the hashtags #march4justice and #whyimarch were ideas that came from her. The hashtag #march4justice is likely to be used for many years to come by Australians standing up for good and is destined to have its own chapter in future history books.

Bridie McLennan, herself a survivor, knew she wouldn’t be able to attend a march due to heath reasons, but was determined to contribute in other ways. And that she did, in spades.

Like me, Bridie also put her business (www.emergencybk.com.au) on hold and threw herself into the cause. She realised that if events were to be organised in multiple locations, they would likely be done through Facebook Groups and Events. Off her own back Bridie created the Twitter account @WomensMarchAus (now @WomensEventAus), sent out her first tweet and it took off from there.

Bridie created and frequently updated a Google spreadsheet that could be accessed and shared anywhere, with details of all 50 events, including links to more info. She sourced the information through hunting through FB Event pages, FB Groups, websites, contacting organisations, tips from followers, contacting MP’s State and Federal and more. She also answered thousands of questions from Followers, helped 30+ regional organisers with checklists and info on event accessibility, where to find additional info, linked up regional teams with each other so they could share resources and knowledge, tweeted info about what people not able to march could do and much more. The spreadsheet was used/posted by multiple non-official march Facebook groups to help their followers find events near them and multiple media outlets, journalists and politicians as a source for information – including a retweet by the ABC’s Laura Tingle

Bridie says; “I’m so proud of the work accomplished in record breaking time, by amazing women and allies, organising 50+ events across the country. The people behind the scenes, like myself and others running social media (Twitter, FB, Instagram, TikTok etc) who put our lives on hold and were central to ensuring attendees, media and politicians, had access to accurate and up to date info, critical to the success of the marches and how many ended up attending.”

Bridie had direct contact with many regional event organisers across the country. For example:

Talbot, Victoria – Organiser Fiona Somerville. Bridie tracked Fiona down through joining Talbot Community Group, and messaging admins of that group that she had heard someone might be organising an event.

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Morrison denies criticising the EU, despite doing so… two hours earlier

By Andrew Wicks

According to Scott Morrison, he never criticised the EU. This directly contradicts a statement that he made two hours earlier, one that criticised the EU.

Back in March, Health Minister Greg Hunt rejected a potential delay in the vaccine rollout after Europe blocked one shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine. At the time, he said, “we are very clear that this does not affect the pace of the rollout.”

A month later, we know the opposite to be true. However, the mental gymnastics present goes right to the top.

At 8am, the Morrison government put out the following statement: “Of the 3.8 million AstraZeneca (AZ) Australia has pre-purchased from overseas supplies only 700,000 have been delivered to date. AZ has not been able to secure an export licence from Europe to send the remaining doses, and they know they would never be approved by the European Commission (EC).”

As journalist Samantha Maiden noted, “… the Morrison government has slammed the European Commission over its denial they didn’t block COVID vaccines to Australia as ‘semantics’”.

Wind the clock forward, however, and Scott Morrison has fronted the media and said that, “First of all, I want to stress that at no time did I make any comment about the actions of the European Union, nor did I indicate any of the background reasons for the lack of supply that we have received from those contracted doses. And so, any suggestion that I, in any way, made any criticism of the European Union would be completely incorrect.”

Fortunately, a pioneering reporter posed the following question to Scott Morrison:

Trust in the Government is critical for Australians to actually take up the vaccine. In recent weeks, we’ve seen blame-shifting with the states. We’re now bickering with the EC about supply issues and along with the issues with blood clotting, which still remains unclear to a lot of people. Are you concerned that the Government’s handling of this may contribute to vaccine hesitancy among the population? And what are you going to do about that?

Morrison responded thusly: “No, I’m not. And I think much of the conflation of the issues you’ve raised, I think, is more in appearance than in fact. I mean, all I’ve simply done today is set out very clearly that 3.1 million vaccines didn’t arrive in Australia. That’s just a simple fact. It’s not a dispute. It’s not a conflict. It’s not an argument. It’s not a clash. It’s just a simple fact.

“And I’m simply explaining to the Australian public that supply issues is (sic) what’s constraining and has constrained, particularly over the recent months, the overall rollout of the vaccine. Look, it happens before every single National Cabinet. You all write stories about how everybody is disagreeing with each other and we come to National Cabinet as always and I’ll stand before you on Friday and talk about the things that are agreed.”

*****

In Morrison’s world, he didn’t say what he said. The states and the federal government are getting along harmoniously, and criticism of the rollout doesn’t actually exist. What is the above, if not textbook gaslighting?

Dr Jennifer Sweeton, a Stanford and Harvard-trained trauma specialist, defined it as “a ‘sneaky, difficult-to-identify form of manipulation (and in severe cases, emotional abuse)’ that results in the gaslightee questioning his or her own perception, experiences, and even reality. In severe cases, this psychological warfare can result in the victim becoming dependent on the gaslighter for his or her own sense of reality.”

 

 

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.

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Was COVID-19 born in the United States? (part 13)

Continued from: Was COVID-19 born in the United States? (part 12)

By Outsider

As late as 28 February 2020, President Trump was claiming that the coronavirus “is going to disappear” – like “a miracle.” He was disparaging those warning that Covid-19 was rapidly spreading throughout the country, by declaring: “This is their new hoax.”

The Trump Administration, acting as the representative of the financial oligarchy, did nothing to protect the population from the pandemic. After utilising the crisis to orchestrate a massive handout to Wall Street, the governing class launched a back-to-work campaign which will cost tens or hundreds of thousands of lives.

The Trump Administration ‘big lie’ against China is both an excuse for its own criminal negligence and an attempt to cover for the criminal policies it went on implementing.

If one is looking for reliable evidence of the crime committed with a well-planned epidemic which turned into a disastrous pandemic, one should seriously consider what follows.

On one hand President Trump provided a massive handout for the support of Wall Street, and on the other the United States Congress secured the passage of the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act – the CARE Act.

Now, the legislative iter of that Act is rather interesting – revealing, one would say.

Evidence shows that the coronavirus ‘operation’ started well before the ‘lockdowns’ and the fear campaigns.

Consider, for example, that whereas the World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern – P.H.E.I.C. on 30 January 2020, the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARE Act), also known as H.R 748, was introduced over a year earlier, on 24 January 2019, at a time when most had not even heard of the word coronavirus. (M. Taliano, A Well-Planned Epidemic, Global Research, 14.05.2020).

The Bill was intended to respond to “the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak and its impact on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses.” (H.R.748 – CARES Act, Sponsor: Rep. Courtney, Joe [D-CT-2] (Introduced 01/24/2019).

During 2019 the Trump Administration would organise and/or support the following activities:

  1. Crimson Contagion by the Trump Administration’s U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (January-August 2019).
  2. Urban Outbreak, by the U.S. Naval War College and Johns Hopkins (September 2019), followed immediately by the United States government’s setting up of the Flu Vaccine Task Force Event 201, by Johns Hopkins, the World Economic Forum, and the Gates Foundation (October 2019).
  3. President Trump would later refer to the CARE Act – a bailout of up to 6.2 trillion dollars – as “the single biggest economic relief package in American history.” (Remarks by President Trump at Signing of H.R.748, The CARES Act).

All of this is significant, because it contradicts the notion that the virus or other parties caused the financial crash, as it reinforces the likelihood that the crash was in fact organised, with intent. The virus is the scapegoat or false flag for previously-planned economic bailouts, and a form of dis-employment, fiscal and social distress, emergency laws, authoritarianism, vaccination programmes – the result of a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution.’

But there is more. On 20 November 2018, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, through the Pirbright Institute, in which they are ‘major stakeholders’, acquired a patent on the coronavirus itself.

The Gates – through their Foundation – ‘own the problem’. They also have vested financial stakes in perceived ‘solutions’, which would include vaccines. (M. Taliano, Problem, Reaction, Solution, 7 May 2020; Problem, Reaction, Solution, marktaliano.net).

As government spokespeople are now calling for a ‘second, or third wave’ in the ‘pandemic,’ one may anticipate more digital education and healthcare, more authoritarianism, more poverty, higher “excess death” rates, and an increasingly ravaged public sphere.

(The following pages are from H.R.748 – 116th Congress (2019-2020): CARES Act | Congress.gov | Library of Congress)


Summary: H.R.748 – 116th Congress (2019-2020) All Information (Except Text)

There are 5 summaries for H.R.748. Public Law (03/27/2020) House agreed to Senate amendment (03/27/2020) Passed Senate (03/25/2020) Passed House (07/17/2019) Introduced in House (01/24/2019).

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Public Law No: 116-136 (03/27/2020).

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the CARES Act

This bill responds to the COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) outbreak and its impact on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses.


H.R.748 – CARES Act116th Congress (2019-2020)

LAW

Sponsor:Rep. Courtney, Joe [D-CT-2] (Introduced 01/24/2019)
Committees:House – Ways and Means
Committee Meetings:07/23/20 10:00AM
Latest Action (modified):03/27/2020 Became Public Law No: 116-136. (TXT | PDF) (All Actions)
Roll Call Votes:There have been 5 roll call votes

This bill has the status Became Law

Here are the steps for Status of Legislation:

  1. Introduced
  2. Passed House
  3. Passed Senate
  4. Resolving Differences
  5. To President
  6. Became Law

More on This Bill

Subject — Policy Area:

· Summary (5)

· Text (6)

· Actions (46)

· Titles (24)

· Amendments (15)

· Cosponsors (369)

· Committees (2)

· Related Bills (49)


Summary: H.R.748 – 116th Congress (2019-2020) All Information (Except Text).

There are 5 summaries for H.R.748. Public Law (03/27/2020) House agreed to Senate amendment (03/27/2020) Passed Senate (03/25/2020) Passed House (07/17/2019) Introduced in House (01/24/2019).

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Public Law No: 116-136 (03/27/2020)

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the CARES Act

This bill responds to the COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) outbreak and its impact on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses.


Overview

Sponsor:Rep. Courtney, Joe [D-CT-2] (Introduced 01/24/2019)
Committees:House – Ways and Means
Committee Meetings:07/23/20 10:00AM
Latest Action (modified):03/27/2020 Became Public Law No: 116-136. (TXT | PDF) (All Actions)
Roll Call Votes:There have been 5 roll call votes

Tracker.

This bill has the status Became Law.

Here are the steps for Status of Legislation:

  1. Introduced
  2. Passed House
  3. Passed Senate
  4. Resolving Differences
  5. To President
  6. Became Law

More on this Bill.

Subject — Policy Area:

· Summary (5)

· Text (6)

· Actions (46)

· Titles (24)

· Amendments (15)

· Cosponsors (369)

· Committees (2)

· Related Bills (49)

Summary: H.R.748 – 116th Congress (2019-2020) All Information (Except Text).

There are 5 summaries for H.R.748. Public Law (03/27/2020) House agreed to Senate amendment (03/27/2020) Passed Senate (03/25/2020) Passed House (07/17/2019) Introduced in House (01/24/2019).

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Passed House (07/17/2019).


All Information (Except Text) for H.R.748 – CARES Act116th Congress (2019-2020).

Back to this bill

LAW

Sponsor:Rep. Courtney, Joe [D-CT-2] (Introduced 01/24/2019)
Committees:House – Ways and Means
Committee Meetings:07/23/20 10:00AM
Latest Action (modified):03/27/2020 Became Public Law No: 116-136. (TXT | PDF) (All Actions)
Roll Call Votes:There have been 5 roll call votes

Tracker:

This bill has the status Became Law

Here are the steps for Status of Legislation:

  1. Introduced
  2. Passed House
  3. Passed Senate
  4. Resolving Differences
  5. To President
  6. Became Law

More on This Bill

Subject – Policy Area:

There are 6 versions of this bill. View text.

(Click the check-box to add or remove the section, click the text link to scroll to that section).TitlesActions OverviewAll ActionsCosponsorsCommitteesRelated BillsSubjectsLatest Summary

Titles (24)

Short Titles.

Short Titles as Enacted

CARES Act
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act

Short Titles as Enacted for portions of this bill
  • COVID-19 Pandemic Education Relief Act of 2020
  • Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
  • Coronavirus Economic Stabilization Act of 2020
  • Emergency Appropriations for Coronavirus Health Response and Agency Operations
  • Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act

Other Short Titles

CARES Act
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act

Other Short Titles for portions of a bill

  • COVID-19 Pandemic Education Relief Act of 2020
  • Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
  • Coronavirus Economic Stabilization Act of 2020
  • Emergency Appropriations for Coronavirus Health Response and Agency Operations
  • Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act

Short Titles – House of Representatives

Short Titles as Passed House

Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2019

Short Titles as Introduced

Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2019

Short Titles – Senate

Short Titles as Passed Senate

CARES Act
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act

Short Titles as Passed Senate for portions of this bill
  • COVID-19 Pandemic Education Relief Act of 2020
  • Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
  • Coronavirus Economic Stabilization Act of 2020
  • Emergency Appropriations for Coronavirus Health Response and Agency Operations
  • Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act

H.R.748 – CARES Act116th Congress (2019-2020)

LAW

Sponsor:Rep. Courtney, Joe [D-CT-2] (Introduced 01/24/2019)
Committees:House – Ways and Means
Committee Meetings:07/23/20 10:00AM
Latest Action (modified):03/27/2020 Became Public Law No: 116-136. (TXT | PDF) (All Actions)
Roll Call Votes:There have been 5 roll call votes

Tracker:

This bill has the status Became Law

Here are the steps for Status of Legislation:

  1. Introduced
  2. Passed House
  3. Passed Senate
  4. Resolving Differences
  5. To President
  6. Became Law

More on This Bill

Subject – Policy Area:

· Summary (5)

· Text (6)

· Actions (46)

· Titles (24)

· Amendments (15)

· Cosponsors (369)

· Committees (2)

· Related Bills (49)

Actions Overview H.R.748 – 116th Congress (2019-2020) All Information (Except Text)

Bill History – Congressional Record References

7 results for Actions Overview

DateActions Overview
03/27/2020Became Public Law No: 116-136. (TXT | PDF)
03/27/2020Signed by President.
03/27/2020Presented to President.
03/27/2020Resolving differences — House actions: On motion that the

House agree to the Senate amendment Agreed to by voice vote.

03/25/2020Passed/agreed to in Senate: Passed Senate, under the order

of 3/25/20, having achieved 60 votes in the affirmative,

with an amendment by Yea-Nay Vote.

96 – 0. Record Vote Number: 80.

07/17/2019Passed/agreed to in House: On motion to suspend the rules

and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays:

(2/3 required):

419 – 6 (Roll no. 493).(text: CR H5958-5959)

01/24/2019Introduced in House

 

To be continued…

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The day Scott Morrison lost the next election

By Ad astra

Note the date in your diary – 15 March 2021 – because the date itself is not memorable. You will never forget the day though – the day thousands of angry women gathered outside Parliament House in their March4Justice campaign to highlight the appalling misogyny and mistreatment of women, both in and outside parliament. You will never forget that our PM was invited to join them, to listen to them, to hear their stories, to empathise with them, to feel their pain, their anguish. Neither will you ever forget that he chose, quite deliberately, to stay within the safety of his Prime Ministerial office, instead offering them an invitation to join him in his castle, where he feels safe. As he often reminds us, he is the PM after all, and avoids attending such rallies, hinting his safety might be at risk, a proposition denied strenuously by Cait Kelly in her New Daily article: Women’s march organisers hit back at claim Morrison would have been unsafe.

Women will not forget.

Already enraged, they were further angered by the insensitive remarks of the very person they most wanted to listen, and really hear – their Prime Minister – the most powerful person in the land, the one most able to respond positively with all the strength and resources of the nation’s federal parliament. Is there any other person in this country that is more enabled to make telling decisions that could counter the chronic misogynist malaise that afflicts our parliament – a malady in clear view to those with wide-open eyes to see. Those who have been living under a rock can catch up by viewing the 22 March episode of Four Corners: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Does our PM, the Honourable Scott Morrison, MP, really believe that come the next federal election these women will ‘forget’ his ineptitude, his tone-deafness, his arrogant dismissal of their concerns? Does he really believe they are so fearful of his authority, so naïve, that they will be forgiving?

Also, does he expect these women to forget that his so-called ‘Minister for Women’, Marise Payne, was too busy to walk a few paces from the safety of her office to join the protestors to hear their anguish and their pleas for a better deal? Will they swallow her lame excuse, set out so revealingly in the West Australian? Does she think voters are so stupid, so naïve?

Women are queuing up to express their disgust at PM Morrison’s behaviour. Cait Kelly has this to say:

The organisers of Monday’s women’s rally outside Parliament House have hit back at a Liberal MP’s claim that Prime Minister Scott Morrison couldn’t attend the march because of security issues.

On Saturday Liberal MP Jason Falinski told the ABC that Scott Morrison couldn’t join the March4Justice rally for security reasons.

“He is the Prime Minister of the country and there are security issues around those sorts of issues, about him going into big crowds,” Mr Falinski said.

But organisers of the protest have hit back, stressing it was a safe space and that the invitation to attend had been extended across the political spectrum. “Women’s spaces are meant to be safe spaces,” insisted organiser Janine Hendry.

“The marches were inclusive, respectful, and kindness was present. When members of parliament and senators joined the Canberra crowd we welcomed them with cheers and applause. Both Mr Morrison and Minister for Women Marise Payne refused to attend the march, instead inviting the organisers to a private meeting. Their offer was rejected before the rally on Monday morning, with Ms Hendry insisting the leaders should come out and recognise the thousands of attendees. “We have already come to the front door, now it’s up to the government to cross the threshold and come to us. We will not be meeting behind closed doors.”

As if to leave no doubt in the mind of the electorate about his appalling tin ear, he redoubled this behavioural trait during his March 23 press conference, when following still more revelations of the revolting behaviour of parliamentary staffers, he sought to ‘explain’ his own behaviour, ‘tears’ in his eyes, with still more references to the most important women in his life – Jen and his girls. In telling words, Angela Priestly exposes this charade in her article in Women’s Agenda: Scott Morrison gave a powerful speech on ‘hearing women’, but then failed on substance.

Then, to reinforce in voters’ minds his ineptitude and his unsuitability for the high office of Prime Minister, he foolishly resorted to his habitual defensive strategy, taking aim at News Corp, upon which he relies for support, accusing the organisation of harassment, only to find he was wrong: “Right now, you would be aware that in your own organisation that there is a person who has had a complaint made against them of harassment of a woman in a women’s toilet.” News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller soon hit back: ”Prime Minister Scott Morrison was wrong today to claim an investigation is under way into a complaint accusing an employee of harassment against a woman in a female toilet. No complaint has been received and News Corp and Sky News are not dealing with a complaint.” Touché.

Even as this piece is being written, more damning accounts of PM Morrison’s inept behaviour arrive by the hour! Better stop writing before it becomes encyclopaedic. No more weighty words are needed. Time will test the prediction that Scott Morrison’s government, like the proverbial smelly fish, is rotting from the head down, and will lose the next election. 15 March 2021 though will stick in our memory as the day the rot began.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
Putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword

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Women demanding respect in the workplace isn’t being “emotional”

By Annasis Kelly

It seems, to some so-called journalists, they consider women who have to remind men to be respectful in the workplace as being “emotional” has shown exactly why there was a Woman’s March after the mishandling on the Brittany Higgins issue in Parliament House. They expect us womenfolk to be quiet. To be any louder than that is being “emotional”. Well, I would be angry if I was grabbed on the buttocks by a fellow worker and being hit with suggestive talk. I would be angry if I was raped by someone I worked with, too. I would be angry if I was shown disrespect just for being a woman. In fact, it is being disrespectful. And anger is a normal response.

The men who have written these “articles” have no idea why we are angry, but like to use the same things that try to keep us under thumb. But if the shoe was put onto them and they were hit on by someone who they didn’t want to hit on them, they would be angry too. Of course, they would no doubt use violence to rectify their actions. Then they go “but I was angry”. Yeah, mate, the same thing but instead of using our fists we use our collective voices.

It is common sense and respect not to treat women like they are a piece of meat. If you don’t like that type of behaviour directed to your wife, sister, mother, daughter; don’t do it towards someone else’s. This isn’t emotive – this is logical and to reduce it to “women are just too emotional” for having their boundaries entrenched puts you into two categories. One, someone who does not respect women and their boundaries and, two, not fit enough to be talking about this topic.

For those who consider women speaking out about this as being a “leftie” whatever happened to being human? Did you forget that? Human rights and dignity are not a left or right scale of political madness, it is the epitome of human existence. We are far off in equality for many reasons; the thinking that a woman speaking out about injustices as being “emotional” is one of such examples. But by saying that women are being emotional because they are speaking out about travesties and workplace indecencies, just shows you do not want equality at the end of the day.

Well, guys, the 1950s called and they want their ideology back.

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Seeking the Post-Covid Sunshine: Staying on the Straight and Narrow

Cut-off from overseas travel, Australians still have a wide choice of options for the Post-Covid future. Labor’s Special Platform Conference has opted for a cautious reform agenda in both domestic and foreign policies. Of crucial importance are the conventional resolutions on economic and foreign policies.

The positive traction from this national virtual policy conference will probably come from commitments made from the empowerment of women and environmental sustainability in the challenges posed by global climate change.

Conference made some minor amendments to the draft policy platform. These changes will soon work their way into the final document. I have relied on the draft policy document for my comments.

Building Australia’s Future Prosperity

Commitment to balanced private and public sector investment receives over sixty mentions in the draft platform offered to the national policy conference. There is emphasis on socially just government intervention to advance productivity and skills training.

The specifics of Labor’s tax responses will be determined after the federal LNP’s budget on 11 May 2021.

While an election in the second half of 2021 is not out of the question, most political pundits have opted for the possibility of another budget in 2022 before the election date is announced.

This makes it logical for the policy conference to be long on rhetorical commitments and short on details as the Australian and global economies are still in a volatile state.

Australia’s Place in the World

The conference has reaffirmed the fundamental importance of strategic relationships with the USA through the ANZUS Treaty. There is a concession to rebooting our economic ties with China despite significant areas of disagreement over human rights. A more moderate stand on relations with Taiwan, Hong Kong and the minorities in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region would soon cool the current tensions. The National Policy Conference supported such initiatives.

Labor shares the LNP government’s commitment to greater self-reliance in defence. Defence expenditure is to be close to two per cent of GDP.

There are concessions to visits by military aircrafts and vessels from friendly countries including nuclear powered vessels through ports with adequate safety facilities. The document is silent on whether vessels in transit can carry nuclear weapons.

Commitment to Sustainability

Action on climate change has a strong focus to make Australia an alternative energy superpower through Carbon Capture and Storage Programmes (CCSs). The draft policy document noted a cut-back by the federal LNP in CCS commitments approaching half a billion dollars. In contemporary politics, this commitment to sustainability is at all times in the interests of improved economic productivity and employment generation.

Funding commitments to reduce the costs of electric cars worth less than $77,565 are positive initiatives. There are also policy compromises on support for new gas projects and protection of metallurgical coal exports with support from the AWU and CFMEU. Investment in 400 community batteries to will also support the uptake of electric cars.

Gender Equality and Women’s Rights

Empowerment of women is a fundamental principle of Labor values which permeates commitment to the descendants of first nation Australians and to people of more recent multicultural values.

The crisis in Australian politics over the gender divide is already evident in trendlines in Essential Polling Research. Scott Morrison is still the preferred prime minister across the board gender divides in the sample (Poll Bludger, 31 March 2021).

Proactive Pragmatism

Labor’s reform agenda is underwritten by pragmatic and responsible tax policies which end an over-commitment by the federal LNP to its own support base from so-called Mum and Dad investors:

“Labor will deliver a progressive and sustainable tax system. This will provide incentives for all Australians to work and undertake productive enterprise, while guaranteeing adequate revenue to fund quality public services, bring about a more equal distribution of income and wealth, and achieve the nation’s social, economic and environmental objectives.

Australia’s taxation system should be efficient, simple, transparent and equitable. There is no place for tax evasion. Meeting Australia’s economic and fiscal challenges requires everyone, including Australian and multinational corporations, to pay their fair share of tax…

… As a social-democratic party, Labor will pursue inclusive growth. We reject the false choice between growth that is strong and growth that is fair. Labor believes our economy is strengthened when more people can contribute to it and have a stake in its success. We note that around the world rising levels of inequality have left countries more vulnerable to sudden economic shocks. Labor’s growth strategies will therefore maximise opportunities for full employment, equality of opportunity, fair wages growth, increasing social mobility and economic redistribution.

I would have liked more emphasis on peace co-existence and development assistance for first nation communities, funding for urban sustainability and commitment to preventative health measures. These big ticket items could have been supported by national and state level investment funds which are open to investment from the local and overseas corporate sectors but without the fixed interest commitment of traditional treasury loans.

Labor’s union affiliations have ensured commitment to fairer industrial relations at a time when JobKeeper programmes are going into recess under the federal LNP. PCC Employment Lawyers offer the following take on IR changes:

Achieve a national minimum standard for long service leave that will form part of the National Employment Standards;

  • Ensure consistent treatment of public holidays between states and territories;
  • Retain penalty rates for excessive or unsociable hours, and for weekends and public holidays;
  • Provide an objective test for determining when a worker is a casual;
  • Improve working conditions for fly-in, fly-out workers;
  • Establish an independent umpire to adjudicate and resolve bargaining disputes.”

The Motivational Challenge in the Wider Electorate

It is difficult to excite the electorate in formal political debate with both major parties close on primary votes in the 37-39 per cent range. Even with Green preferences, Labor’s primary vote needs to be 40 per cent to secure a strong mandate from the electorate. Even on Labor’s current 38 per cent in primary votes, Labor has a favourable 52-48 per cent margin after the distribution of Green preferences.

The current Green vote comes at a cost in those inner-city electorates and senate spots which are highly contested with Labor.

Much will depend on the effects of the removal of JobKeeper in an economy which is only in partial recovery from the COVID-19 recession of 2020.

Any further losses to the LNP government’s working majority in both houses rekindles the prospect of an early election before economic conditions deteriorate.

However, the National Policy Conference has not been overwhelmed by critical media coverage from high profile ABC commentators like Anthony Green and Annabel Crabb.

Meanwhile, Australians could be facing another khaki election as in the mid-1960s. This macabre trend distanced the electorate from that close election result in 1961 when an LNP victory in the Brisbane electorate of Moreton offset the possibility of a hung parliament.

Federal Labor is staying on the Straight and Narrow Path with the Biden Administration when wisdom calls for a spark of national independence in our economic and strategic relationships with China as the world’s emergent global power. This is a trend which no amount of LNP election rhetoric can erase.

It is for Labor to improve our relations with our Asian superpower first and foremost before the deterioration in relations becomes a permanent strategic reality to the cheers of the global corporate military and industrial complexes with their generous financial support to think-tanks like the Australian Strategic Policy Institute:

 

Image from Lockheed Martin

 

Denis Bright is a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to citizen’s journalism from a critical structuralist perspective. Comments from insiders with a specialist knowledge of the topics covered are particularly welcome.

 

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How do religious beliefs affect politicians’ decisions about women?

This post is written by @StopLyi58491572, a social media account that looks at the reporting of mainstream Australian media, particularly on stories relating to politics at both state and federal levels.

They are constantly dismayed at what they see by a member of #This Is Not Journalism, an online movement that holds media to journalistic standards.

Can we please talk about a significant issue currently affecting Australia? The Prime Minister is a member of a cult and its influence is pervading our society. No, this time I am not going to talk about Prosperity Theory and how evident it was during JobKeeper and the “snap-back” to the incredibly generous $44 per day, now that most businesses are on their feet and Gerry received a squillion dollar bonus. This is about women and why improving the lot of 51% of our population is diametrically opposed to the religious beliefs of Mr Morrison and a disproportionate number of his inner circle.

Firstly, let me be clear. I am an atheist but 100% respect the right of others under law to have faith. It is also imperative to note that Mr Morrison has stated he does not consider the Bible to be a “policy handbook”

Mr Morrison has often spoken about how important his faith is to him and his family. Who could forget his belief in miracles acceptance speech? Miracles are a central tenet of Pentecostal belief and his religion, in fact, is central to who he is. He has frequently spoken about how he prays for us, whether during the Covid pandemic (when he seemed to compare himself to Moses), the droughts or floods. There are also fairly regular calls for the blessings of God.

I suspect that most of us have a vague understanding of the core beliefs of Pentecostalism, as perhaps we do of fundamental Judaism or Islam (Pentecostals are not fundamentalist Christians BTW). Vague understandings can be dangerous as often they are tinged with bias both conscious and unconscious. Let’s look at a few of the actual beliefs and why I feel they matter in relation to the advancement of women in Australia.

Firstly, let’s consider the fact that, by nature, Pentecostal Christians are socially conservative. They tend to view issues like abortion, same sex attraction and single parenthood as something to be frowned upon at the very least as their belief is what was considered normal during the times of the New Testament should still apply today.

That anyone could believe we should have the same standards today as we had 2000 years ago is tough for me to accept but this obviously should be seen as a significant concern for the women of Australia if you’re viewing it through a prism that recognises that massive steps are not only required but are being demanded both here and around the world. It’s interesting to note that Mr Morrison himself abstained from the #SSM vote.

Next is Pietism, or the belief that someone’s personal relationship with God guides their life path. This is entirely at odds with strong legislation designed to promote women above where they find themselves today, often due to policies that amount to structural disadvantage. Matters such as abortion or addressing the significant problems around provision of greater childcare as well as methods of equalising superannuation opportunities (rather suggesting women withdraw theirs to escape domestic violence) could well be hamstrung by such strong, and many would consider archaic beliefs.

It’s little surprise that, at least financially, women are proportionately worse off post-lockdown than men. Despite the rhetoric around job figures, close examination of the facts show that average earnings per participant in the workforce per hour have decreased and that many of the industries most affected are more likely to be staffed by females. The recent debate around and gutting of the proposed changes to IR law was also seen by many a demonstrably damaging to female workers over men.

Finally, Evangelical Christians adhere strictly to certain passages of the Bible including Ephesians 5:21-25, which calls for a woman to submit herself to her husband’s will “as she would to God”. Unfortunately, there are many cases where this has resulted in both sexual and physical violence within the household.

Again, I reference the LNP policy of women accessing their superannuation to escape domestic violence situations and the apparent lack of support for both social services for the many women caught up in such situations but also the lack of action in provisions for domestic violence leave in the workplace.

Interestingly, the Church seems to have a similar underrepresentation of women in the ranks of the hierarchy as does the LNP

In the 2016 Census, 1.1% of Australians identified as Pentecostal. There are now several in Cabinet meaning there is a massive over-representation of people whose belief system includes the above examples. If, like the Prime Minister, their religion defines who they are, these views are simply not in line with broader Australia. Neither are they about to progress equality and equity for women in this country.

You can have as many women in the Cabinet as you like and even a Prime Minister for Women but unless they passionately believe that we need to see real change, it’s simply not going to eventuate under the Morrison government.

There was a time, not so long ago, where mainstream journalists not only turned a blind eye to sexual misconduct in Canberra, in some cases they actually enabled it or were directly involved. This has partly contributed to the “Toxic Culture” we are now hearing about within the walls of power. Will their reticence to discuss religion also have an equally negative effect on the women of Australia?

I fear it may.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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Morrison pledged 4 million vaccinations by March, we got 600,000

By TBS Newsbot

Scott Morrison pledged to have the country vaccinated by October, starting with four million by March 31. He’s since changed both targets.

At the start of the year, Scott Morrison set the organs of Australia’s health system a pure marketing challenge. The entire population would be vaccinated by October. Doing some quick maths, and that’d mean twenty million people would receive two doses in eight months. The first marker of success, per Scott Morrison, would be 4 million Australians vaccinated by March 31.

So far, we’ve managed to vaccinate 600,000, which is about 15% of the original target. In response, the government has moved the goalposts, stating that they’ll now reach that mark by the end of April. We’ll also no longer be fully vaccinated by October.

However, to meet that target, we’ll have to vaccinate 121,400 a day.

As we reported in February, “Prime Minister Scott Morrison has suggested the rollout capacity will start at around 80,000 doses per week and increase from there. That’s 16,000 a day (over five-day weeks), well short of the required 200,000 a day. The planned peak capacity hasn’t been announced, but even back-of-the-beer-mat calculation would suggest a minimum of 167,000 vaccines per day to give two doses each to 20 million Australians in the eight months between March and October 2021. The longer it takes to reach such capacity, the higher that daily number will get — or we will not reach the target vaccination percentage this year.”

An unrealistic target is one factor, but the rollout has also been impacted by circumstance. Beyond the international supply issues, they have been errors, booking issues, and a general vagueness around who gets what when. Indeed, doctors told publications that they were beating their heads “against a wall” due to issues with the rollout’s implementation.

This week was punctuated by two clusters in Queensland, purportedly spread by unvaccinated health workers. As it stands, Queensland is now experiencing a three-day lockdown, with the known cases up to 15.

Despite all this, Catherine Bennett, the chair of epidemiology at Deakin University, is hopeful. In conversation with The Guardian, she said that the numbers will grow “exponentially” as our rollout has been anything but “usual”.

In February, a group of UNSW researchers offered a different take. “It seems clear that to deliver at the scale needed to meet government targets won’t be possible through GPs and pharmacies alone. What’s needed are mass vaccination sites as proposed in the 2018 NSW Health Influenza Pandemic Plan. In a dedicated centre, trained nurses could vaccinate at a rate of between 80-100 people per hour. A similar approach in the UK has seen conference centres, sports stadiums, churches and mosques all co-opted as mass vaccination hubs, to great effect,” they noted.

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.

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Was COVID-19 born in the United States? (part 12)

Continued from: Was COVID-19 born in the United States? (part 11)

By Outsider

Australia’s first ambassador to Beijing in 1973 said that Australia was engaging in a reflexive blame game against China over the COVID-19 pandemic, and that game was undermining the chances of constructive engagement and thus damaging Australia’s national interest. Dr. Stephen Arthur FitzGerald had been posted by the Whitlam Government as the first Australian Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China in 1973 and remained until after the ‘Dismissal’, in 1976. He said that the way the present Australian government had led calls for an inquiry into the pandemic was “clumsy”, and “seems to be for no other reason than to do a kind of ‘gotcha’ on China.”

Dr. FitzGerald said that Australia must adopt a diplomatic response to China. “There is a very, very strong anti-China push coming from certain agencies in Canberra … and it is simply ideological,” he said.

“In my view it’s mindless in terms of our overall interests. You have got to calculate how we come out of this … I have seen absolutely no evidence there was a quiet reaching out to China in advance, if necessary through an intermediary, to say ‘look, we are all in this together, and let’s do a combined collaborative look at how this developed, because we need to prepare for when this happens again and we need to understand it without recriminations’.”

Dr. FitzGerald described as “not particularly helpful” the response of China’s ambassador Cheng Jingye, who warned of possible trade ramifications if Australia kept up its inquiry calls.

“It is no help for either side to be engaging in tit for tat,” Dr. FitzGerald said. But he added: “whether China was right or wrong in the beginning, and all the evidence suggests it was wrong, the thing to say is ‘righto, let’s sit down together and work it out’. There is no one in the government in Canberra who can pick up the phone and talk to someone at the most senior level in Beijing, and if you think about it, that’s a serious condition for us to be in.”

Dr. FitzGerald was speaking at the launch of two papers from the Australia Institute, one of which, written by former senior Defence official Allan Behm, was accusing Australia of “demonising” China through the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Behm, head of the Institute’s international and security affairs programme and a former adviser to Labor frontbenchers Greg Combet and Penny Wong, said that Canberra seemed “determined” to join President Trump in shifting blame for the pandemic onto China.

But, he said, the knock-on effect of a “blame game” was a “lack of coherence in problem-solving strategies.” Mr. Behm said that the Australian government’s proposals for the overhaul of the World Health Organization, giving the body new powers of forcible entry akin to those of weapons inspectors, had little chance of success. Instead the crisis required a “new global consensus” in which all states, “especially the rich and powerful”, had to collaborate. “The problem that we have so often in dealing with these [human rights] issues with China, Indonesia or anyone else is that we are very declamatory, we bawl them out for misbehaviour.” he added. Impervious to any suggestion, the Home Affairs Minister Peter Craig Dutton strongly supported calls for “more transparency” from China, amid growing tensions over the spread of Covid-19.” (D. Snow, Don’t join China COVID-19 ‘blame game’, Gough’s man in Beijing warns, TheHerald, 30.04.2020).

Dr. FitzGerald was not alone in counselling calm consideration of the problem. He was joined by Professor Jane Golley, the Director of the Australian Centre on China in the World at the Australian National University, who also expressed concern at what she termed “continual finger-pointing” at Beijing. “The continual assertion that [China’s leaders] are getting everything wrong and we are getting everything right lacks nuance and sophistication. I have never in my life felt that the value of diplomacy is as high [as it is now] – good old-fashioned diplomacy that seeks the middle ground,” she said.

Almost simultaneously with the publication of the dossier by The SaturdayTelegraph, the American Secretary of State was insisting that there was ‘enormous evidence’ that the coronavirus came from a Chinese laboratory. However Mr. Pompeo was not providing any evidence to support his claim. (J. Borger, Mike Pompeo: ‘enormous evidence’ coronavirus came from Chinese lab, The Guardian, 04.05.2020).

Mr. Pompeo’s claims, made in a 3 May interview with ABC’s ThisWeek, represented an escalation in rhetoric. He had previously said that the United States was looking into the possibility the virus came from a laboratory in Wuhan. On 3 May he said: “There is enormous evidence that that’s where this began,” later adding: “I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.”

 

 

At one point, the Secretary of State appeared confused over whether he was claiming the Sars-CoV-2 virus – which causes the COVID-19 disease – was deliberately engineered or had escaped as the result of a laboratory accident.

“Look, the best experts so far seem to think it was manmade. I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point,” he said. But when he was reminded that United States ‘intelligence’ had issued a formal statement noting the opposite: that the scientific consensus was that the virus was not manmade or genetically modified, Mr. Pompeo replied: “That’s right. I agree with that.”

President Trump had made a similar unsupported claim four days before, saying that he was privy to evidence that the pandemic began in a Chinese laboratory, but was not permitted to share it. (M. Singh, H. DavidsonandJ. Borger, Trump claims to have evidence coronavirus started in Chinese lab but offers no details, The Guardian, 01.05.2020).

On that very day Mr. Pompeo told a radio interviewer: “We don’t know if it came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. We don’t know if it emanated from the wet market or yet some other place. We don’t know those answers.” (U.S. Department of State, Secretary Michael R. Pompeo with Simon Conway of Newsradio 1040, Interview, 30.04.2020).

By the afternoon of 3 May, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the United States had confirmed 1,134,507 coronavirus cases and more than 66,000 deaths. Worldwide, there had been nearly 3.5m cases confirmed and more than 245,000 people had died.

Beset by criticism of its response to the outbreak and management of the ensuing public health crisis, the Trump Administration sought to focus blame on China.

Most epidemiologists say that while it is possible that the outbreak had started in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where coronaviruses have been intensively studied, it is a far less likely scenario than the theory that it was transmitted naturally from bats through an intermediary animal, mutating along the way to become dangerous to humans.

On 14 April 2020, the chairman of the United States joint chiefs of staff, Gen Mark Milley, had said “the weight of evidence” pointed to natural transmission but was not conclusive. (J. Borger, US military chief: ‘Weight of evidence’ that Covid-19 did not originate in a lab, The Guardian, 15.04.2020, modified on 02.07.2020).

Beijing had rejected the many and frequent suggestions that the virus could have escaped from a laboratory. But Chinese authorities did not allow foreign experts, including investigators from the World Health Organization, to take part in the investigation into the origins of the virus. Nor have they shared samples taken from wild animals at the Wuhan livestock market where they claim the outbreak began.

It is well-known that in 2018 United States diplomats and scientists had raised concerns in State Department cables about safety standards and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Analysis of the first 41 COVID-19 patients in medical journal TheLancet found that 27 had direct exposure to the Wuhan market. The same analysis found that the first known case of the illness did not. (G. Readfearn, How did coronavirus start and where did it come from? Was it really Wuhan’s animal market?, The Guardian, 28.04.2020).

Mr. Pompeo has – to be generous – ‘a patchy record’ on characterising United States ‘intelligence’ estimates. For example: he repeatedly claimed that there was no direct evidence linking the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to the murder of journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi, contradicting substantial United States evidence implicating him. He also repeatedly claimed that there was evidence of an “imminent threat” to American embassies posed by the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, whom the United States killed in a drone strike in Baghdad on 3 January. Yet, a formal letter justifying the strike sent by the White House to Congress in February made no mention of an ‘imminent threat’.

In a modern-day version of the “big lie,” the Trump administration is claiming that the COVID-19 pandemic is the product of the deliberate actions of the Chinese government.

As for President Trump, on 3 May 2020, in a ‘town hall meeting’ organised by Fox News, he accused China of taking actions specifically intended to infect millions of Europeans and Americans.

After repeating the false claim that the COVID-19 originated in a research laboratory in Wuhan, and that China had tried to cover up the event, President Trump declared: “They didn’t stop people going into the U.S.A. and all over the world … They said, ‘hey look, this is going to have a huge impact on China, and we might as well let the rest of the world become infected.’ They allowed this to go into our country, they allowed it to go into other countries.”

Such claims have been asserted repeatedly in recent times by top Administration officials – and only more carefully uttered by representatives of ‘hostage’ countries, such as Australia. On the same morning, Secretary of State Pompeo declared – as already noted – that there is “enormous evidence” that the virus originated in a Wuhan laboratory, adding: “Remember, China has a history of infecting the world.”

In a separate interview on the same 3 May, White House advisor professor Peter Kent Navarro, as Assistant to the President, Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, and the national Defense Production Act policy coordinator, declared that China “seeded the world with what became the pandemic.” He added: “I did write a book in 2006 called The Coming China Wars. On page 150, I predicted that the Chinese Communist Party would create a viral pandemic that would kill millions of people worldwide. It is now beyond my wildest nightmare what China has inflicted on the world.”

Neither Trump, Pompeo, Navarro or anyone else has provided a shred of evidence to substantiate their claims.

Detractors of Donald J. Trump are often tempted to compare him with a dictator, and very often with ‘men of destiny’ such as Mussolini or Hitler. This is an exaggeration, much as a ‘big lie’ is. In the case of Trump the comparison is doubly incorrect: Trump is no Mussolini. Where are the state-armed thugs in ‘black shirts’? And, as for Hitler, some caution is advisable: the ‘big lie’ as a propaganda technique the invention of which is often credited to Hitler, and ostensibly largely applied by Goebbels, was not in direct advocation of the technique but was in attribution of it to the Jews, accusing them, and ‘the Communists’ of using it to distort history.

From a concrete point of view, the basic idea is that, the bigger a lie one tells, the more people – particularly uneducated people – are likely to believe it, if for no other reason that it is difficult for such people to accept that someone could tell a lie that huge with a straight face. It is a propaganda technique, albeit with a logical fallacy.

If a comparison of Donald J. Trump should be made with anyone, it would be much better to draw to a very largely reduced Edward Louis Bernays, the Austrian-American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda, referred to in his obituary as “the father of public relations.” And that, too, seems rather a compliment of Trump; better stick with lesser marketeers, such as Scott Morrison. After all, Morrison attributed his victory in the 2019 election to “a miracle.” President Trump was still claiming, as late as 28 February 2020, that COVID-19 was: ”going to disappear” like “a miracle.” And, as the plague was savagely spreading throughout the country, he would charge: “This is their new hoax.” They? Who? Why, the Muslims, those from ‘shit-hole countries’, ‘the Socialists’… und so weiter

By telling such a big lie, that the Chinese government – rather, the Chinese Communist Party – had deliberately allowed and encouraged COVID-19 to infect the United States and Europe, the American people would be mobilised in regarding that as an act of biological warfare which goes beyond the terrorist attack of 11 September 2001.

With unbridled recklessness, in order to justify its own criminal indifference to the lives of millions of people, the Trump Administration was setting up a situation which can make military confrontation with China unavoidable.

That the very American Administration was unable to produce any evidence did not matter. The President would say so, and that should suffice. Nor would the opinion of a considered article in The New York Times of 30 April 2020 matter much when it said: “Most intelligence agencies remain skeptical that conclusive evidence of a link to a lab can be found, and scientists who have studied the genetics of the coronavirus say that the overwhelming probability is that it leapt from animal to human in a non-laboratory setting, as was the case with H.I.V., Ebola and SARS.”( M. Mazzetti, J. E. Barnes, E. Wong and A. Goldman, Trump Officials Are Said to Press Spies to Link Virus and Wuhan Labs, The New York Times, 30.04.2020).

The Trump Administration’s lies, however, are facilitated by the media and the political establishment as a whole, which do not expose them as fabrications but rather present them as legitimate positions. Whatever differences they may have, the anti-China campaign serves definite geo-strategic interests and domestic political imperatives supported by the entire ruling class.

In a Sunday editorial, the Democratic Party-aligned Washington Post condemned “China’s effort to avoid accountability for the novel coronavirus pandemic through a global propaganda campaign.” It declared: “The response to such belligerence cannot be appeasement.” Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden released an ad attacking Trump for “rolling over” to the Chinese government in relation to the coronavirus.

Yet, the attempt to use the charge that China deliberately developed the virus as a bio-weapon, the claim that the virus escaped from a laboratory and the accusations that China concealed knowledge of the disease from the world are contradicted by publicly available information. It is well-known that the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission publicly reported a cluster of pneumonia cases on 31 December 2019, that China identified the virus which causes COVID-19 on 7 January 2020, and that Chinese scientists warned that the disease could be capable of human-to-human transmission.

On the other hand, it was not until nearly eight weeks after the first public statements by Chinese health officials that any systematic testing for COVID-19 began in the United States. The United States had conducted only 1,000 COVID-19 tests by 4 March, two months after the first warnings by Chinese officials. China, South Korea and other Asian countries had carried out millions of tests by early February 2020.

Even as the virus was expanding through the United States, President Trump, a compliant Congress and the distract media systematically downplayed the significance of the disease.

In the end it would be left to small, not ‘of record’, newspapers and sources of information to diffuse the news that coronavirus was spreading in the United States by 17 December 2019, some weeks before China admitted that people there were being infected by a new virus, as antibody testing of donated blood had revealed.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientists would discover antibodies to coronavirus in 106 samples taken from blood donated by more than 7,300 Americans in December and January. Of donations made between 13 December and 16 December 2019, 39 were positive, including samples from California, Washington and Oregon. Another 67 samples from donations made between 30 December and 17 January in the Midwest and Northeast were also positive. China did not report the new virus to the C.D.C. until 31 December 2019, and the first United States case was confirmed on 19 January 2020. (N. Rahhal, U.S. Health editor and T. Boyer for DailyMail.Com., Coronavirus was spreading in the US by December 17 – WEEKS before China admitted that people there were being infected by a new virus, antibody testing of donated blood finds, Daily Mail, 02.12.2020). On a quick search, twenty five other sources were found documenting the same story.

To be continued…

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