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Tag Archives: coronavirus

Scott Morrison’s coercive control of women (part 3)

By Tess Lawrence

Women live with Mandemic virus

Scott Morrison’s coercive control of women

In this third and final excerpt of her treatise, Tess Lawrence takes no prisoners but leaves no woman behind. In the face of the Mandemic, she calls for women – and the world – and politicians to all woman up. (Please also see Part 1 and Part 2).

Women have long lived with what I call the Mandemic virus.

Like Coronavirus, it has various global variants and mutations and as burgeoning statistics attest, can cause physical and psychological injury – and prove fatal.

Unlike Coronavirus, there is no Mandemic vaccine.

Ironically and catastrophically, Coronavirus has formed an antigenic shift with the Mandemic virus, igniting sporadic breakouts of increased ‘domestic’ violence, mostly by men, towards women, children and their families in general.

Women have become the punching bags of the world. As well as the perennial sexcuse ‘she made me do it’ chuck in another one. Blame Covid-19.

I killed her. I blame her and Covid. They made me do it

Blame Coronavirus and everything and anything for beating her up, for knifing her, for running over her with the car, for glassing her, for kicking her in the stomach while she’s carrying a baby, for breaking her arm, for strangling her, for pouring petrol on her, for throwing acid on her face, for gaslighting her, for beheading her, for drowning her, for stoning her, for starving her, for breaking her spirit, for drugging her, for killing her children, for setting her and the children alight in a car, for throwing her/your child off a bridge, for raping her, for gang raping her, for killing her by grief, for not allowing her to vote, to dance, to sing, to love, to lust, for harassing her, for demeaning her, for sodomising her with implements, for torturing her, for keeping her uneducated, unfed, unhealthy, poor, for selling her into sexual slavery, for not letting her vote or stand for public office, for killing her with an axe, for killing her with a gun, for killing her with a Kalashnikov, a rapid fire assault rifle, for killing her with barrel bombs, cluster munitions, landmines, chlorine and lewisite, for mutilating her, for slicing off her clitoris, for killing her by humiliation, for ridiculing her, by rumours, for degrading her in public, for killing her by stealth, for killing her dreams, for killing her hope, for killing her aspirations, for stealing her dreams, for slut-shaming her, for killing her with unkindness, for sobbing like a girl, for weaponising sex abuse, by killing her with political psycho violence, for killing her with coercive control.

To all the above I have been privy. As a journalist, as an advocate, as a sister to all the women and girls and girl babies above. Some of the above I have experienced.

She. We. I. Have nowhere to hide.

Govt in-house inquiries into rape and sex abuse, dead loss

The industrial strength parliamentary allegations of rape and sexual harassment have resulted in a plethora of various inquiries, reports and navel upskirting, making international headlines and deadlines.

The community has to endure the nonsensical and irritating propensity of time-wasting of so-called ‘independent’ in-house investigations, often led by party flunkies, former or current staffers. They are a dead loss.

They are meaningless and invariably have happy endings for the accused. Nothing to see here, nothing to hear here, nothing to say. The government is simply regurgitating its own vomit.

Morrison’s cos, John Kunkel, an émigré from Rio Tinto that used sacred Juukan Caves for target practice

They are an insult to our intelligence and to justice. Most of all they are an insult to those who are courageous enough to speak their truth.

Take the facile Kunkel Report. It should be read with more than a grain of Epsom salts.

Dr John Kunkel is Morrison’s chief of staff and general advisory factotum. A proud émigré from Rio Tinto, the blow up doll of the mining industry who used the indigenous sacred caves of Juukan for target practice.

See what I mean? Goodness me, he might as well have been seconded to the Prime Minister by Rio Tinto.

It was Dr Kunkel who was charged with the onerous task of investigating the black ops sleazebags who were spreading false rumours about David Sharaz, partner of Brittany Higgins – his own colleagues in his own office, mind you. As if.

The Battle of Great Brittany in Manberra

Inspired by Grace Tame’s courage and example, on February 14, former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, who worked for then Minister for Defence Industry, the hapless and some say hopeless, Linda Reynolds, revealed she had allegedly been raped by a colleague on a sofa in the Minister’s office in March, 2019.

The allegation stunned an already disgusted public, especially in learning how reaching out to her political peers left Higgins feeling threatened and isolated.

Headlines ricocheted around the world about this latest in a string of allegations and loud rumour that still swirl about Canberra, better named Manberra.

The usual platitudes of faux concern slid out of Morrison’s mouth, along with the pro forma denial of all knowledge of any such thing.

Il Duce Dutton Minister for Home Affairs and Au Pairs reduce Higgins’ claim to “He said, she said.” Really?

Add to this nothingness the repugnant, snide remarks by the ever plotting prime minister-in-waiting Peter Dutton, still smarting from Morrison shrewdly out manoeuvering him for the top job in the Turnbull coup.

The then Minister for Home Affairs and Au Pairs blithely dismissed the Higgins allegations as a mere “he said, she said” affair. Really?

Well no. Not really. It turns out that Il Duce Dutton was being less than honest with the Australian people he professes to serve. Further, he has been more than duplicitous and misrepresented the facts about his knowledge of the Higgins allegations and his contact with his nemesis, Prime Minister Morrison – his office and minions.

An appalling Home Affairs Minister, Il Duce is now busy making an even greater mess of his current Defence portfolio than his predecessor, Marise Payne, whom Morrison has pathetically crowned the Prime Minister for Women in yet another forensic red flag of his disassociation to women and dismissal of the physical and psycho political sexual assault crisis in our Parliament that now warrants a Royal Commission.

Moreover, this crisis continues to compromise our national security and confirms that Dutton has lost control of this aspect of both portfolios. The stereotyping of cherchez la femme has obscured the brutal reality of cherchez l’homme.

Security Alert! If Putin has video of Trump peeing on prostitutes, what does he have on Aussie politicians?

If Vladimir Putin really has footage of Donald Trump peeing on prostitutes (hope they got paid extra, not for the peeing but because it was the Donald) then imagine what filth he has on Australian ministers and parliamentarians in general.

Despite serious allegations made by a number of women employed by the government, most politicians, including females, failed to make any definitive statements.

They displayed the political cowardice for which Australia has become synonymous, whether the discussion is about submarines, asylum seekers, voting at the United Nations, the judicial system, the workplace, the home, wage parity, aged are, superannuation, employment opportunity, welfare, housing, gender equality, Indigenous and other human rights, religious persecution, abortion, climate change or change of life. By any measure women get a bum deal.

But Australia has been blessed with a singular tribe of mostly young, fearless warrior women who have emerged from the shadows of autocratic abusive male dominance to stand defiantly in front of their accusers and their fellow Australians to call out and denounce their abusers and the systemic culture of toxic masculinity that protects and incubate them, including within corrupt political and institutional spheres.

Grace refuses to tame the shrew

Grace Tame, 2021 Australian of the Year, left the nation in awe with her profoundly eloquent, inspiring and moving acceptance speech. It shamed those of us who could have done more and didn’t. Including female politicians.

No more shaming or taming of the shrew within!

The end of her courageous speech when she talks of her serial rapist teacher’s command to be quiet, still echoes in my head and turns my gut:

“I remember him saying, ‘Don’t make a sound…
Well, hear me now!
Using my voice, amongst a growing chorus of voices that will not be silenced.
Let’s make some noise, Australia!”

 

Grace Tame’s Australian of the Year speech… shamed those of us who could have done more and didn’t. Including female politicians (Image from abc.net.au)

 

Tame’s speech prompts ScoMo’s ‘Felt good to get that out’ remark as if he was speaking about a fart

The first publicly known survivor of child sexual abuse to win the award, as well as the first Tasmanian recipient (she earlier won Tasmanian of the Year) Tame was also responsible for changing Tasmania’s archaic gag laws to enable victims/survivors to identify themselves if they so wished.

And what did our Prime Minister say to Tame after her compelling speech?

‘Well, gee, I bet it felt good to get that out!’

 

Image from pedestrian.tv

 

This is our Prime Minister speaking for gawd’s sake. As if he were talking about a fart. His repugnant and crass response again reflects a patronising pathology. Either he just doesn’t get it, or he just doesn’t care. Or both.

Women force fed manburger with the lot

It is apparent that our political system is geared to protect the guilty from all sides of the political spectra. The Westminster system was constructed by men, for men and remains mostly comprised of men to this day.

This inequity is reflected in all tiers of our society and the body politic, women are force fed the manburger with the lot.

Lacklustre leaders and governments without vision like Scott Morrison and the LNP compound the problem. The Labor Party and the Greens are not without sin. The world has a glut of such men.

Of course, Australia is not on its Pat Malone with any of this but given our track record we are implicit and complicit in the decrepit legacy world order that subjugates women through coercive control, menace and mendacity. We need a new model of government and governance.

Women getting the short end of the dick

If it is correct that 80 per cent of the world is ruled by men, then at 20 per cent women are surely getting the short end of the dick.

Don’t be misled by inane Coalition propaganda that it is genuinely concerned about the plight of women and girls in this country or any other.

We openly trade, consort, cavort and play sport with regimes that treat girls and women as chattels ultimately owned and enslaved by the male dominated state.

We do so because we share strands of the same intellectual and societal DNA as these foul regimes.

Execution of adulterous Saudi Arabian women related to execution of Hannah Clarke and her three children

The stoning to death of an adulterous woman in Saudi Arabia is unquestionably related to the horrific murders of Hannah Clarke and her three children, Aaliyah 6, Laianah 4, and Trey 3, burned alive by Hannah’s estranged husband Rowan Baxter, who poured petrol on his family and set them alight while they were in their car in Brisbane, February last year.

Ultimately, they were both executions engineered by the state. By defaullt. By intent.

In her 2019 book ‘Coercive Control – See What You Made Me Do’ and so-named SBS TV series, Australian journalist Jess Hill provides us with a litany of ugly home truths about this insidious societal disease that Australia has failed to incorporate into our Commonwealth criminal code, unlike Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland.

Why do you think that might be?

 

Image from womensagenda.com.au

Says Hill:

“For a lot of people [coercive control] sounds like second-grade abuse, a lower form of abuse that wouldn’t be so hard to recover from. What the model of coercive control shows, is that where that is present, you are actually looking at a situation of entrapment, not just abuse.”

The psychological trap and the threat of violence for non-compliance is often enough to keep victims in a state of fear. In the case of Hannah Clarke, Baxter would change his routine randomly to keep her guessing his movements.”

Morrison’s – and the Coalition’s continual sometimes subliminal attempts to coercively control women – ultimately relegates us to instruments and possessions of the state, do they not? They are the same and similar tactics deployed by the likes of the Taliban, Islamic State, Boko Haram, cults, established religions and various pop up terrorist groups.

American Evan Stark’s book ‘Coercive Control – How men entrap women in personal life’ first published 14 years ago, nails the similarities between terrorism, hostage taking and coercive control.

I add the sexual grooming tactics of predators and the more blunt force tactics like cyber terrorism, spiking drinks and raping women whilst they are drunk or unconscious. Or dead.

I’m also adding government, fiscal, political and institutional coercive control of women. Dammit, chuck in manburger with the lot!

Australia slave to Granny England and Uncle Sam and any fossil that precedes the word ‘fuels’

In Australian politics we continue to follow whilst others lead. Latterly, there are no saints and few heroes. We boldly go only where others have already trod and that includes banal intellectual wastelands and fallow paddocks.

We don’t stand on the shoulders of our own giants, Instead we genuflect to the United States, party donors, benefactors, sponsors and any fossil that precedes the word ‘fuels.’ We buy, sell and trade policies and principles on the toss of a dollar.

Since white settlement, we have never stopped tugging at the mullet that grows like a razorback hog’s down what remains of our political backbone, to ingratiate ourselves with Granny England, Uncle Sam or the carpet baggery of home grown and imported marauding mining companies.

Today Morrison is at the helm of this fetid heap of poisonous tailings.

His benign demeanour is dangerous. Consider the company he keeps. I’m not talking only about his QAnon mate, Tim Stewart or indeed Brian Houston but rather those who comprise and compromise his government.

Red-faced wombat Barnaby, eats beetroot and leaves

For a start there’s the red-faced wombat, deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, so called because he eats beetroot and leaves.

Barnaby’s philandering Joyce stick had already once caused him to be stripped of the position and cost him a marriage as well as inspiring then PM Turnbull’s ministerial
‘bonk ban’ on having sex with staff.

Even though Morrison is said to loathe Joyce and claims he cannot interfere in National Party internal politics, he could have and should have in this instance, given the squalid, hypocrisy of Joyce’s past and the (strenuously denied) allegations of sexual harassment by Catherine Marriott.

Regional as well as National Party women have deplored Joyce’s return, including former federal and state president, Christine Ferguson. The Nationals are no different to others when it comes to the disregard and disrespect for the safety and well being of women and girls.

Not only did an in house investigation into the allegations against Joyce predictably prove inconclusive but now there are circumstances concerning the man who headed up that investigation that warrants a truly independent investigation into Marriott’s allegations that will be seen to be fair to both parties.

It was discovered that Ross Cadell, the Nationals’ NSW State Director who oversaw the Joyce inquiry had been the subject of an apprehended domestic violence order by police in 2014 on behalf of Cadell’s former wife, that had later been withdrawn.

Women have had enough of sexcuses

Morrison’s pimping of obnoxious behaviour has been debated on social and anti-social multimedia platforms, mainstream and upstream media alike, in the court of public opinion and in national protest marches led by angry women who have had enough of sexcuses; me included.

Enough is more than enough. We have reached a stage when the coalition’s response to serial allegations of rape and other forms of sexual abuse and intimidation, harassment, covert and overt violence both within and close to parliament’s portals, are met by SloMo and his bovver boys and girls with indifference and diffidence.

The Liberal and National parties are mired in sewage of their own making; muck expunged from a body politic riddled with parasites feeding on their egos.

Too harsh? I’m not finished.

The reflux of the allegations by a now dead woman of rape against former Attorney-General Christian Porter and the allegation by Brittany Higgins that she was raped by a former parliamentary staff member have forever severed the larynx of the LNP circa Scott Morrison.

The facile and arrogant notion held by Morrison and Porter that he could remain Attorney General after his inane press conference when he outed himself, is again another red flag on the coercive control map.

So too is Porter’s arrogant presumption that anonymous monies poured into a Blind Trust is yesterday’s news, now that he has stood down as Industry Minister. Porter has long forfeited his right to represent Australia and the good folk of Pearce.

Christian Porter is the Minister for Christian Porter. Even in this porterfolio he has proven his deceit

Christian Porter is the Minister for Christian Porter. Even in this porterfolio, time and again he has shown his propensity for deceit. This ghastly man, who presumed he would one day be Prime Minister has been the architect of his own demise.

When Morrison goes down, and go down he will, the Porter scandal will indisputably be writ large on his political epitaph.

In my Independent Australia article, The night Porter and allegation of rape, I’ve documented a number of reasons for this claim.

We live in an era of big dick politics and big dick politicians. Hard men with hard-ons all the time, seemingly. Pun intended, there is more to come this side of the federal election.

Australia is a cause without a rebel

Time and again, claims of sexual harassment and cover-ups, the general fobbing off of women and the largely uncensured snide remarks and insult directed towards women for decades by members of both houses of parliament have brought the coalition into particular disrepute on this day. And for sure, some of the insult has been by women in the House.

Who can forget histrionic UteGirl, Michaelia Cash, the political scraps pecker who somehow reminds me of a gallus gallus domesticus (although that is probably unfair to your average chook) threatening to name “every young woman” in Bill Shorten’s office during a tit for tat Senates Estimates hearing?

This noxious bile spat from the mouth of a former Minister for Women! Now this political mercenary is the first law officer in the land. Just what is it about the likes of George Brandis, Christian Porter and Michaelia Cash that vaguely warrants their appointment to Attorney General?

Australia has become a cause without a rebel.

Women are political roadkill

Instead of railing against bigotry and bigots, the Prime Minister has led the Charge of the White Brigade. I’ve touched on only a few of the many worthy examples of proof

For too long in Australian politics, women have been perceived as roadkill. Politically, a bit on the side.

Throwing a few million overdue dollars at us recently is designed to shut us up, tantamount to economic coercive control.

It is as if we should be grateful for extra housekeeping money – if we’re good girls and don’t march or make a noise!

Women around the world live under a mandemic yoke. We need to woman up

We don’t need to wait for the results of a Morrison Rorschach test. He has a list of priors that are sourced well before he was elected PM. He has a modus operandi when dealing with problems – largely ignores them.

The global reality for women is that the design of all governments and regimes, fractured, rogue or otherwise practice coercive control of women, as do institutions and society in general, where it is so often culturally enshrined.

Our world remains a patriarchal collective, like it or no. Even the spoils of war, the looting and the mooting of a new world order really refers to male power, military and political supremacy. Let’s not kid ourselves that the notion embraces gender equality on any level. Millions of women are enslaven to men and their governments and governance.

None of this is so called feminist rhetoric, or the spoutings of any womanifesto. This is the reality for women and girls. The societal dominant and dominating gender is male. It is men who hold the greater power.

Australia and the rest of the world needs to forensically analyse what is left of our degraded democracies and all other forms of regimes infected with the Mandemic virus.

Some of us must step up and take responsibility for not making enough noise, as Grace Tame urges us to do.

We have to fight against an elitism and the corporatisation of what must be a new kind of emancipation. We need to see more so-called ordinary women and indigenous women attend summits and contribute to reports; women who are not always renowned corporate game changers, but women who are mostly voiceless. We need to seek them out, we need to hear their voices. We need to learn from them.

I want to hear from potential Hannah Clarkes and not just hold a wake around their funeral pyre.

Women – and the wonderful men who love us and support us – need to lock this in. To lock our arms around one another. Leave no woman behind. Politicians throughout the world need to acknowledge the wars on women.

Women, myself included, need to woman up.

Please Note: If you need any support, please reach out to Lifeline on 13 11 14. You are not alone.

© Tess Lawrence

Tess Lawrence is Contributing editor-at-large for Independent Australia and her most recent article is The night Porter and allegation of rape.

 

 

 

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More Hopeful Times Ahead with President Joe Biden in a Post-Virus Era?

By Denis Bright

Can the politics of hope replace the normal circus of a US Presidential election in these times of public health and financial crises? Is Joe Biden as the Democratic hopeful up to the task against a well-resourced and canny incumbent?

How are things trending on the Twin Fronts? What unchartered scenarios lie ahead before the scheduled Presidential voting day on 3 November 2020?

Coping with the COVID-19 Crisis

The Guardian (9 April 2020) provided useful updates of the COVID-19 Crisis across the USA. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site in Atlanta provides daily updates of the trend-lines.

While the North Eastern Metropolitan Areas are virus epicentres, there are clusters of COVID-19 around all major urban hubs across the USA.

Graphs of cases of COVID-19 may follow trends established in South Korea and China in the coming weeks after the peak of the crisis is finally attained.

 

 

Countries with different health systems may be following similar trajectories.

Perhaps the degree of enforcement of social distancing is a key factor.

 

Regrettably, President Trump is uneasy about keeping the US in lockdown. The US was a late starter in issuing lockdown directives. The Trump Administration took its lockdown cues from the key epicentre states.

President Trump’s unease is linked to his concerns about the consequences of an over-extended lockdown for the financial welfare of the nation.

The US Financial Crisis-The Times They Are A-Changing

As the vital COVID-19 case numbers are likely to plateau and then to flatten in a few weeks, it is the financial crisis which is likely to intensify (The Guardian 9 April 2020). Perhaps there is provision to defer the presidential and congressional elections if unemployment trends worsen at a time of public health crisis. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first landslide victory in 1932 at the height of the Great Depression came with a voter participation of 56.9 per cent. This was similar to recent voter participation rates in recent presidential elections.

McKinsey Global Institute in New York offers the possibility of a China-led recovery if the pandemic can be contained in the medium term in 2020:

 

 

Trajectories for the US economy and its global influence are of course unknown quantities at this stage. The McKinsey Institute does not extend its more detailed US projections beyond the current year.

 

 

Unchartered Social Outcomes of Previous Crises

In these times of financial and health crises, it is surprising that the US is turning to veteran leaders on both sides of the congressional aisles.

Old musical folk-heroes are being respected anew even if they maintain some left-leaning agendas as in the 1960s. Perhaps the popular music scene is an ongoing escape from the excesses of centre-right politics now as before.

Like Barry McGuire (Born 1935) of Eve of Destruction fame, Bob Dylan might be still alive to sing out the Trump Era. This is less likely if President Trump gains a second term. The changeover inauguration date in January 2025 is still a very long way off.

From near-retirement, Bob Dylan has just offered a new release on 27 March 2020. Murder Most Foul recalls the social aftermaths of President Kennedy’s (JFK’s) assassination on Friday 22 November 1963 (Full lyrics here).

Writing for MIT Press Reader, literature guru Timothy Hampton of the University of California, Berkley reminds every one of the haunting tragedies that afflict US society over which a cheery popular culture continues to offer band-aid compensations (The MIT Press Reader 3 April 2020).

Social band-aids were needed as high-profile assassinations in the 1960s. Formal politics in the USA tilted to the right while most of society continued its freedom-loving ways in the shadows of a more disciplined corporate society with its enormous and growing military industrial complexes.

The losses of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King within a few weeks of each other in 1968 deepened the wounds against a healthy social recovery from JFK’s assassination. When the Woodstock Festival convened in upstate New York in August 1969, President Nixon had already won by a landslide at the 1968 election. There was no It’s Time Era in formal US Politics as in Australia, Britain and across the expanding European Union.

Writing in The Conversation, Aniko Bodroghkozy, Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia summed up the eerie mood across the USA as COVID-19 takes its toll:

Over the past few weeks, the coronavirus has turned the country’s cultural spigot off, with sports suspended, museums closed and movies postponed.

But the virus hasn’t stopped Bob Dylan, who, on the evening of March 26, released “Murder Most Foul,” a 17-minute long song about the Kennedy assassination.

Many have pondered the timing. So, have I. I’m a Kennedy scholar, writing a book about how television handled coverage of the Kennedy assassination over a traumatic four-day “black weekend,” as it was called. I’ve also explored how Americans responded to the sudden upending of national life with the murder of a popular and uniquely telegenic president.

NBC News anchor David Brinkley, as he signed off that first night, called Kennedy’s death “just too much, too ugly and too fast.”

The coronavirus crisis may also seem too much and too ugly, though it’s unfolded much more slowly. While a global pandemic is certainly different from a political assassination, I wonder if Dylan sensed some resonance between the two events. Inscrutable as always, he’s unlikely to ever explain. And yet it’s hard to ignore the poignant similarities in the ways Americans have responded to each tragedy.

Ana Swanson of the New York Times notes the switch from trade and investment wars with China to increasing dependence on China for vital medical supplies in the current health crisis:

WASHINGTON — A commercial aircraft carrying 80 tons of gloves, masks, gowns and other medical supplies from Shanghai touched down in New York on Sunday, the first of 22 scheduled flights that White House officials say will funnel much-needed goods to the United States by early April as it battles the world’s largest coronavirus outbreak.

The plane delivered 130,000 N95 masks, 1.8 million face masks and gowns, 10 million gloves and thousands of thermometers for distribution to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, said Lizzie Litzow, a spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Ms. Litzow said that flights would be arriving in Chicago on Monday and in Ohio on Tuesday, and that supplies would be sent from there to other states using private-sector distribution networks.

While the goods that arrived in New York on Sunday will be welcomed by hospitals and health care workers — some of whom have resorted to rationing protective gear or using homemade supplies — they represent just a tiny portion of what American hospitals need. The Department of Health and Human Services has estimated that the United States will require 3.5 billion masks if the pandemic lasts a year.

That overwhelming demand has set off a race among foreign countries, American officials at all levels of government and private individuals to acquire protective gear, ventilators and other much-needed goods from China, where newly built factories are churning out supplies even as China’s own epidemic wanes.

This sharing of medical assistance from China in a time of crisis is particularly significant. Australia has the green light to respond in a likewise manner (ABC News):

A freight flight from the city where the deadly coronavirus first appeared has arrived in Sydney, carrying 90 tonnes of protective masks, gowns and ventilators.

Tough restrictions on travel in and out of Wuhan, China were only lifted in the last 24 hours, and the city’s airport whirred back into action along with many other transport hubs in Hubei province.

The cargo flight, operated by Chinese carrier Suparna Airlines, arrived in Sydney after 9:00pm on Wednesday, and is the first flight from Wuhan to land at Australia’s busiest airport since late January.

“This flight will be carrying up to 90 tonnes of much needed medical supplies,” a spokesperson for the Home Affairs Department told the ABC.

Readers who would like to promote discussion on this possible change agenda should add their comments in the interests of citizens’ journalism.

The Atlantic (20 November 2013) has offered some trivia from The Wire to assist in your assessment of Joe Biden from a selective focus on his College Years (The Atlantic 20 November 2013). Select quoting from this article would spoil its punch-lines.

Luck will have to be on Joe Biden’s side again if he is to overcome the challenges posed by the political colours on the 2016 US Presidential Election Map. The 2016 Campaign delivered a 304 to 227 margin for President Trump in the Electoral College. Hillary Clinton gained almost 3 million primary votes over Donald Trump and attained 48.2 per cent of the overall vote.

The campaigning style of Joe Biden has yet to be tested against a canny incumbent with almost limitless campaigning resources to communicate with a nation in lockdown. Joe Biden’s ultimate political trial on 3 November 2020 must surely attract some of the silent majority who are not scared off by the long-odds.

Australia is so entwined in the global soft power network of the USA that our interest is imperative. I can recall the exact ABC radio news bulletin at 6 a.m. on that Saturday morning here which informed me of JFK’s assassination. It took years to understand the long-term even immediate consequences. With the assassin incorrectly portrayed as a communist sympathiser at the time, the electorate was already ready to stay with Robert Menzies on 30 November 1963 with his commitments to new F11 Fighter Jets and negotiations to accept the North West Cape Communication base through negotiations with US Ambassador William Battle. Australia was intimately caught up in the right-wing tendencies in global politics within the US Global Alliance.

The guide to form map from the 2016 Presidential Campaign shows the challenges facing my own outsider wager in favour of Joe Biden knowing that President Trump has a knack of mobilising his own support base in those key Swing States like Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania which have the numbers to change our political world through the strange mechanics of the US Electoral College. Building up more progressive majorities in California and New York do help congressional numbers but do not influence the race prize for Joe Biden.

In the Hope of Progressive Change, I choose to Trust in my current assessment of Unchartered Times.

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

 

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You will catch it

You are going to catch it.

Not everyone who reads this article will contract COVID-19, the novel coronavirus originating in Hubei province, China. On the current rates of transmission and expected trajectory, however, the chances are better than even that if you are reading these words, in the near future you will catch this virus.

Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch believes that the virus has moved beyond any attempts to contain it. Whilst governments around the world, Australia included, continue to talk about containing the virus and preventing its spread, they are also mobilising their plans for responding to a global pandemic. Dr Nancy Messonnier, head of the US government’s Centre for Disease Control, said on Tuesday that COVID-19 could not be stopped and that public policy would have to switch from containment to mitigation.

“Pandemic” has a formal definition. Professor Brendan Murphy, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, explains: “A pandemic is a label that simply says that there’s sustained community transmission in several countries. We are already preparing for the eventuality that we have further outbreaks in Australia should they happen. So that’s what the preparation is about. So, declaring a pandemic doesn’t change what we do.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced that the government is preparing its full response plan for management of the crisis. Current plans include securing the supply chains for required medical supplies and personnel, and as reported elsewhere, the repurposing of sports stadiums and other infrastructure as temporary medical facilities.

The truth is, it is likely this virus already qualifies for “pandemic” status. Whilst the majority of cases have so far been detected in China, the disease is spreading rapidly and largely uncontrolled throughout Asia. The United States has seen its first case of an apparently disconnected diagnosis – a confirmed case of coronavirus in a patient with no known contact to people from affected areas. There have been reports of people becoming symptomatic up to 28 days after exposure, which is well outside the accepted quarantine measures. In all likelihood, in several countries or many, the disease is spreading unchecked and unseen throughout populations.

They won’t know about it for some time yet. The disease is often mild, or even for some asymptomatic. This virus appears to be more contagious than influenza, and every individual affected may on average infect four others (reducing, as the virus becomes more endemic in the population). In combination, a highly contagious virus with mild effects is likely to be impossible to control. Once it gets out of control in any one place, in practical terms our globalised economic system ensures it will spread everywhere.

The most important direct response anyone can take towards this sobering thought is: Don’t panic!

The moments of greatest disruption from this virus are right now. There is much that is yet unknown, but from the cases we have so far seen, we can draw some conclusions.

COVID-19 is far more virulent than the common cold, it’s true. It’s more severe than normal strains of influenza. Typical influenza hospitalises a small percentage of sufferers, with complications and severe outcomes including death for between 0.1% and 0.5% of all infected. COVID-19 has a mortality rate between 1.5% and 4%. The wide range reflects that the severity of virus outcomes depends largely on the quality of medical care sufferers receive. Untreated, obviously more people die than those in countries with advanced medical systems, such as Australia. COVID-19 appears also to be particularly severe in the elderly and those with co-morbid conditions (pre-existing conditions such as Diabetes or Asthma). This is no different to the regular strains of annual influenza and related cold and flu viruses.

COVID-19 is not a devastating new epidemic to kill vast swathes of Australians. It’s far more akin to a particularly severe flu strain. The more pernicious effect of the virus is measured in how societies are responding to its threat.

Governments have already closed borders, and even after a few short weeks the global economy is shuddering under the strain. Australia’s universities are suffering a loss of international students, many of whom will not return. Global trade markets are at a standstill, as are many major industrial facilities in China. (As a result, China’s CO2 emissions for the quarter are hugely reduced, although if COVID-19 is contained and restrictions are lifted there is an expectation that China’s factories will roar back into life, seeking to make up for lost time.) There have been reports already of panic buying of medical and infection prevention materials in various cities. Japan is terrified about the possibility of the Olympic Games not going ahead, or (worse) being run without an influx of tourists. International art, fashion and music festivals have been postponed or cancelled for fear of spreading the virus amongst attendees. Forget making people sick, COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on modern society, in much the same way terror of terrorism used to.

Our modern economy cannot operate if people are reluctant to go out in public, if they avoid sporting events and art galleries, beaches and rock concerts, if they avoid Chinatown and restaurants and shopping centres, the whole edifice that is our carefully constructed and tended economy may crumble.

Already stock markets are tottering, and the worst effects have not yet begun to bite. Investors have been so far reluctant to admit the worst possibilities of this pandemic, assuming that the effects of the virus will be to depress the stock market for a short while – perhaps one fiscal quarter – before the inevitable rebound. It seems hugely optimistic to assume that COVID-19 will be under control in a single quarter. This crisis has, almost certainly, a lot longer yet to run. Some analysts fear that the results of COVID-19 will be worse than the GFC. Compared to the damage this could do to modern societies and nations, the physical effects of this virus seem positively benign.

In reality COVID-19 is not too dissimilar, in many ways, to the existing strains of flu. If it becomes endemic in world populations, to the extent that governments cease attempting to contain and eliminate it, we will treat it much as any other flu-like illness: with symptomatic treatment. It is important to note also that there are vaccines currently being developed for this disease. Contrary to some breathless reporting elsewhere, such efforts will not be providing an immunisation against COVID-19 any time soon. The best-case scenario is for a working, mass-produced vaccine to be available 22-24 months from now. This timeline is unprecedentedly swift: most vaccines take up to a decade to bring to market. Two years from now, COVID-19 will either be eliminated in practical terms, or it will be everywhere, sweeping across the globe in annual waves with the weather.

So what would a world with COVID-19 look like? Largely this depends on a couple of factors, which are currently not known.

One of the most important questions is whether COVID-19 might, like existing influenza strains, be highly mutable, changing form every year such that the touted vaccine for this year will be less effective next year. If this proves the case, COVID-19 might be here to stay. The good news is that the severity of COVID-19 might be due in part to its novelty – it is a new virus not previously found in human populations, so it’s feasible to suppose that this virus is proving harder for the human immune system to beat. Unlike the flu, nobody has immunity to COVID-19 from either immunisation or having experienced an earlier strain. After we’ve all experienced COVID-19 once, the likelihood is that many will resist any future strains, should they come. Once you’ve recovered from this year’s strain, your body might more easily fight off the next iteration.

Our most probable future is one where COVID-19 has swept through most global populations and most, at least in western, advanced societies, are now either immune or vaccinated against it. Perhaps the virus will be mutable, each year seeing a new strain, with the medical fraternity encouraging us all to get our Flu-and-COVID shots as each flu season rolls around. Or it will be a one-and-done. In either case, we will no longer be afraid to step outside our doors, to interact with our fellow humans, to socialise and share company and food and experiences. In truth, we shouldn’t be afraid of these things now. Either the authorities will prevail, against the odds, and COVID-19 will go the way of Polio and Ebola, eliminated in most human populations with only a rare outbreak occurring from time to time. Under this scenario the chances of a typical Australian contracting the virus are slim. We are protected by our strong biosecurity and the tyranny of distance. If any country can retain control of such a disease it is Australia. Or else the virus will slip past our defenses anyway and run amok through our cities. Your chances of avoiding the disease then, due to your own vigilance, become unfeasibly small. You are likely to catch it. And that shouldn’t bother you. Most of us will catch it, and for the vast majority of us the result will be a case of coughs-and-sniffles.

At 2% morbidity, COVID-19 would be a substantial killer of the old, the sick, the vulnerable, but as always this cost will be borne most heavily in third world countries, rural areas or those with undeveloped medical systems. Here in affluent Australia it will be a mere sub-component of the list of diseases which can kill us, and we will give no more thought to it than we do to Measles. So, don’t panic. If COVID-19 becomes a pandemic, the likelihood is we’ll just have to live with it. So we shouldn’t let it stop us living now.

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