Episode 252 – Free Speech Limits, Murdoch Influence and China’s Democracy
In a series of debates Trevor tries unsuccessfully to convince Paul that free speech should be curtailed when it is dangerous, the ABC should not allow Murdoch journalists any more air time, Greg Sheridan is a fool, Murdoch journalists have to toe the party line or be sacked, our democracy is not much better than China’s, the protesters in Michigan would’ve been shot if they were black and America will soon collapse into an apocalyptic disaster with people rioting in the streets.
NRL player to reject a codewide request to be vaccinated against the flu
GOLD Coast back-rower Bryce Cartwright is the first NRL player to reject a codewide request to be vaccinated against the flu … He must now explain his stance to League Central before taking the field again this year. Already, the back-rower is regarded as the code’s highest profile anti-vaxxer , with wife Shanelle opening up last year on Instagram about the decision not to immunise their two children.
An NRL official said yesterday that all athletes were expected to get the compulsory flu shot as part of the Project Apollo player protocols.
However, the official added that those who opted against the vaccination would then need to speak with NRL chief medical officer Dr Paul Bloomfield, who would deal with each player “on a case-bycase basis” .
It is understood anyone who objects to be vaccinated because of medical or personal reasons will need to sign a waiver before being allowed to take part in any resurrected competition.
Only last year the Cartwrights created headlines after revealing they would not be immunising either of their two young children.
Shanelle explained that both she and her husband had based their strong stance on widespread research, including a range of books by Dr Suzanne Humphries.
“I remember he (Bryce) was so defensive when I first brought it up and got angry at me for even suggesting that we shouldn’t vaccinate,” Shanelle said.
“And then he read a package insert and a few pages of one of Dr Suzanne Humphries’ books and saw vaccines under a different light.
“And now we’re here.”
Around the same time, Taylor Winterstein – the wife of then Manly Sea Eagles forward Frank Winterstein – also came under the media spotlight after charging $200 to attend her series of anti-vaxxer workshops.
Despite Cartwright’s opposition to the vaccination, there is no suggestion the 25-yearold will have to stand down from the season but instead sign a waiver to ensure his place in the Titans squad once the competition resumes.
YouTube has deleted the account of David Icke
YouTube has deleted the account of David Icke, a conspiracy theorist who has touted the myth that the COVID-19 pandemic is linked to 5G.
Icke’s account was removed after YouTube decided he broke its rules on sharing information about COVID-19, a disease which has infected more than 3.4 million people worldwide, according to numbers tracked by Johns Hopkins University.
A spokesperson for the video sharing site told Newsweek: “YouTube has clear policies prohibiting any content that disputes the existence and transmission of Covid-19 as described by the WHO [World Health Organization] and the NHS [the U.K’s healthcare system].
Last month, Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England’s national medical director, addressed the 5G COVID-19 conspiracy theories, which have lead to dozens of phone masts being set on fire in the U.K.
Powis told reporters on April 4: “5G story is complete and utter rubbish… It’s nonsense. It’s the worst kind of fake news.”
Cabinet secretary Michael Gove said the idea that 5G helps to spread the coronavirus is “just nonsense, dangerous nonsense as well.”
Icke, a former football player, is among those to make such false claims. Last month, he appeared in a live-stream video on YouTube in which he spoke about the mast fires.
“If you look at the situation and if 5G continues and reaches where they want to take it, human life as we know it, it’s over,” he said. Icke also made the baseless claim that a coronavirus vaccine would be fitted with “nanotechnology microchips” which would be used to control humans.
The Center for Countering Digital Hate has been campaigning for Icke to be removed from across social media. According to its website, the organization was set up to “deal with the increasing use of racial and religious intolerance, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of identity-based to polarize societies and undermine democracy.” It claims videos of Icke spreading conspiracy theories about the pandemic have been viewed at least 30 million times across social media platforms.
Imran Ahmed, chief executive of CCDH commented according to The Guardian: “We commend YouTube on bowing to pressure and taking action on David Icke’s channel.”
Blames 5G for reducing immunity and boasts about essential essences of native Australian flora.
Jenna and her Crystals
Should be called Jenna and her cleavage
Made in Australia
Do we allow that if false?
Could we do the same with fake news?
Lucky Morrison is in Charge
We are lucky Morrison as in charge.
Murdoch would have crucified Labor for same policies and would have screamed for less welfare and a faster easing of social distancing restrictions.
Insiders and Outsiders
AN INTRIGUING development in Australia’s media landscape this year is that it appears ABC’s Insiders, a substantial television program paid for by taxpayers, has become a vehicle for the rehabilitation and promotion of Rupert Murdoch’s tawdry media empire.
Take the April 19 episode. It opened with a montage of the past week’s television news and featured Murdoch’s logo Sky News along with Sunrise, Today, SBS and 7.30, implying these are equally reputable.
Then followed a sequence of eight print articles, introduced with, “Let’s see what’s making news”. Seven of the eight were from News Corp publications — the Herald Sun, the Sunday Mail, the Sunday Herald Sun and two each from the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph. They squeezed in one from the Sunday Age.
The three studio guests included two current Murdoch people — Annika Smethurst at the Daily Telegraph and Greg Sheridan at The Australian. The host was David Speers, fresh from nearly 20 years with News Corp.
This is not unusual. The first 12 Insiders episodes since Speers’ arrival as host, have featured 36 guest appearances. Of these, 12 have been current News Corp employees and another four, recent departees. So 44 per cent of all guests from one stable.
There is no need for the ABC to reference anything from News Corp — certainly not as the key source of information. Australia has more than 30 important media organisations. It is itself a well-resourced generator of news and news analysis. Murdoch’s minions are entirely dispensable.
Thank you Yvonne
Is our democracy that different to China?
The CCP. People join. They work their way up through alliances and backstabbing. Factions are formed. Some left and some right. The CCP decides who the candidates are and ordinary people don’t have a say.
In Australia, politically motivated people join a party. It operates like the CCP. We get to decide which of two CCPs we want but we don’t get to choose the candidates. Note even the ordinary members choose (see Eden Monaro)
Population Control – Who or What is stopping us?
Answer – The Catholic Church
Americans line up for … cabbages
EGG HARBOR, N.J. — Jean Wickham’s two sons are in college. Her husband has worked at the same New Jersey casino for 36 years.
She recently felt secure enough to trade her full-time casino job for two part-time gigs that came with an expectation of bigger tips.
Then the coronavirus shut down every casino in Atlantic City and instantly put more than 26,000 people out of work — 10 percent of the county’s population.
“I’ve worked since I was 14 years old,” said Ms. Wickham, 55, a card dealer. “We’ve never had to rely on anyone else.”
The Wickhams’ minivan was one of thousands of vehicles that snaked as far as the eye could see one morning last week in Egg Harbor, N.J., 10 miles west of Atlantic City. The promise of fresh produce and a 30-pound box of canned food, pasta and rice from a food bank drew so many cars that traffic was snarled for nearly a mile in three directions, leading to five accidents, the police said.
“I’m just afraid I’m going to lose my house,” said Ms. Wickham, who lives in Egg Harbor. “I feel like a failure right now.”
About 1,500 emergency meal kits, which provide supplemental food for a family of four for about 14 days, were distributed to casino workers by the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in just under three hours, requiring several additional truckloads of food to be brought to the site.
Once all the meal kits were gone, many cars remained circled around the abandoned mall where the food was being handed out in the empty parking lot.
These drivers were given a five-pound bag of onions, three red cabbages and one green cabbage.
Sgt. Larry Graham, who leads the Egg Harbor Township Police Department’s traffic division, estimated that about 1,500 cars were turned away.
Protesters Storm Michigan Capitol
Domestic Terrorism: Heavily armed protesters stormed Michigan’s state capitol building today in an attempt to intimidate lawmakers deliberating on extending the state’s stay-at-home order.
The Detroit Free Press reports:
Protesters, some carrying firearms, took their demonstration against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-home order inside the Michigan Capitol Thursday afternoon as lawmakers considered an expiring emergency declaration.
Deadline Detroit reports:
A crowd of protesters, some armed with rifles, entered the state Capitol Thursday, demanding to be let into a legislative chamber as lawmakers deliberated an extension of the state’s emergency declaration.
Images and videos posted to social media showed the mob of several dozen ignoring social distancing guidelines as they entered the building, with many not wearing masks. In addition to weapons, some protesters came armed with swastika signage and Confederate flags.
Armed protesters chanted “Let us in,” while some carried signs advocating violence. One sign attached to a truck outside the Capitol said: “Make treason punishable by hanging.” Another prominent sign said: “Tyrants get the rope.”
From Alan Austin
We find at Worldometers the number of active infections for all these nations, updated daily.
The United States is not only at the top of this list of 51 countries but, wait for it … it has more active cases than the other 50 nations combined. That’s despite having only about a quarter of the total population.
Here’s another. Since the pandemic started the USA has recorded 27.6% of all deaths, at 67,444 as this is written. That percentage is rising by 1% every two days. That’s despite having just 4.25% of the world’s population.
There is no excuse or reasonable explanation for this. In early February, Italy realised it had a major outbreak of infections in the Lombardy region. But by then thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of infected visitors had driven or hitch-hiked or taken a bus or train to neighbouring countries. Six countries are only a few hours drive away. Western Europe’s fate was sealed.
The rest of the developed world watched Europe’s calamity aghast and rapidly implemented preventative measures. These included restrictions on air travel from Europe, quarantining new arrivals, testing for infections, contact tracing and telling citizens what was happening. Well, most did. The USA did not. Not until far too late. And some of these things – such as telling Americans the truth about the infection and widespread testing – it still hasn’t done.
America was ripe for it
Julian Cribb is an Australian science author. His latest books on the human future are “Surviving the 21st Century” and “Food or War”.
To understand why, it is necessary to return to the roots of American society, some 400 years ago. Early migrants consisted in large part of people from various religious sects who had found themselves unwelcome in Europe and people fleeing various forms of economic oppression, but who nonetheless brought with them a large dose of European mercantilism. These two elements – god and money – formed the American character, to such a degree that the worship of one was often compounded with the worship of the other.
The mercantilist stream held a strong infusion of British free marketeering and libertarian philosophy, which is shorthand for minimal intervention by governments and maximal freedom to exploit your fellow human. This was ultimately expressed, for the person in the street, in the American cult of individualism and personal liberty. Today says Suyawen Hao “Individualism is a core of American culture and the main value in America.” It has influenced all aspects of society, economics, politics and culture. It has played an enormous and far-reaching role in shaping the character of the nation.
Indeed, I recently heard an American fundamentalist preacher proclaim – in the context of coronavirus no less – that “individualism is a God-given right in America. Here we see the twin strands of god and money neatly plied together to form an unchallengeable assertion (unchallengeable because it is faith-driven – and you are not allowed to question someone’s faith). The same dubious cord is also braided into doctrines such as American exceptionalism, meaning ‘your rules don’t apply to us because we are special’.
Throughout US history this doctrine has manifested itself as fear, tending to paranoia at times, over anything that seems to assert society’s precedence over the individual, be it reds-under-the-beds, socialism, gun control, environmental regulation or Obamacare. …
To cut to the chase, coronavirus is a perfect lifeform for exploiting a society whose social bonds are weak, and which cares more about the individual than the community.
Asian societies, communist or capitalist, are seldom terribly altruistic – but they know how to snap into line when the society faces a common threat, how to subordinate the needs of the individual to the needs of society. When faced with a big new threat they tend to react fast to suppress the selfish individual and promote the common good.
America, or a very large part of it, doesn’t get that. It will pursue aggressive individualism, even if it kills them – which, in the case of coronavirus, it often does.
George Parker, writing in The Atlantic, came as close as anyone to diagnosing the US condition: “We Are Living in a Failed State. The coronavirus didn’t break America. It revealed what was already broken.” And then he dumped, mainly on Trump. Yet even he shied at calling out the true underlying cause of the disease – the national obsession with putting individual interest higher than the public interest.
Somewhere in the confused mythology that makes up the US psyche, Americans must relearn the values of a mutual society in which each pays his or her dues to the greater good.
Can coronavirus teach them? The American disease is a test of the true American character.
Protests in Germany
Around 1,000 protesters gathered in the German capital at the Volksbühne theater near the city center. Protesters shouted “I want my life back” and held up signs with slogans such as “Protect constitutional rights.”
The protests come as a poll last week (link) showed that a wide majority of Germans, 81%, said their government was doing enough to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Even as 55% of Germans backed plans to gradually begin easing the lockdown, only 13% wanted to go further with reopening the country.
The protesters handed out newspapers questioning the need for lockdown measures and claiming the coronavirus is an attempt to seize power by spreading fear. Police spokesman Thilo Cablitz said permission was granted to distribute the newspaper, but that health authorities had not approved the gathering itself.
“During coronavirus times and according to containment regulations, we are obliged to prevent a gathering,” Cablitz said.
Police, who cordoned off the square directly in front of the building in an effort to prevent crowding, used megaphones to call on attendees to disperse and said they arrested more than 100 people.
It was the fourth consecutive Saturday of protests in Berlin. Police said they deployed 180 officers to respond to the latest gathering. Participants have included well-known far-right populists and conspiracy theorists.
‘Gullible’ pollies being fooled by the Catholic Church? A former PM thinks so
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has detailed private conversations with a Catholic Church leader to substantiate claims that the church has been duplicitous and unaccountable in distributing taxpayer money within its school system.
Former NSW education minister, Adrian Piccoli (Nationals) now director of the Gonski Institute for Education, said Turnbull’s account of 2017 conversations with the Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, vindicated his own public complaints about the use of taxpayer funds within the Catholic schools system.
“Malcolm is right, they had us all fooled. It’s certainly immoral and unethical,” Piccoli said.
“Over the years Catholic bishops, like George Pell, had always insisted the virtue of funding the Catholic schools in one lump sum, as a system, was that they could cross-subsidise the poorer schools at the expense of those in the wealthier suburbs,” Turnbull wrote.
“And this claim seemed so plausible, given the church’s mission, that none of us gullible politicians questioned it.”
Turnbull said he discerned from conversations and correspondence with Archbishop Fisher the “reverse was the case”.
“He [Fisher] explained that ‘the problem’ with our needs-based model was that more funding would go to schools in ‘the poorer outer suburbs of Sydney and country New South Wales’.
“I was astonished. ‘But don’t you do that now?’ There was a long pause. ‘Malcolm if your reforms go through, it would mean the fees of St Francis’ school in Paddington, would have to go up’.
Turnbull writes that parents of St Francis, with excellent education results in his Wentworth electorate, would be horrified to learn the church was doing that.
“The archbishop sighed. ‘I am afraid to say, on this occasion, the politician has a more idealised view of human nature than the archbishop’.”
Turnbull wrote that he explained that government funding would still come to the church in one cheque but transparency was required.
“If they wanted to subsidise fees in posh areas at the expense of schools in poor areas, they were free to do that. ‘Oh, come on, Malcolm,’ said Fisher. ‘You know, once you tell people how the government has assessed need and shown how much each school would get, we could never get away with it. People would say we were short-changing poor schools to benefit the rich ones’.”
Turnbull wrote that at one point Archbishop Fisher argued schools in his Wentworth electorate were needier “because the parents had bigger mortgages”.
The exchanges with Archbishop Fisher were some of the most “unedifying and disappointing” Turnbull had undertaken with a church leader.
“This was the fundamental issue: he was objecting to transparency and accountability and wasn’t prepared publicly to defend how they moved government money around their school system.”
Turnbull concluded he could only assume that the objective of the Catholic system was to maintain enrolments in middle-class areas by keeping fees lower.
Resigning from the Catholic faith
For many parents, baptising a child is a bit of cheap soul insurance or done blithely for the benefit of devout grandparents. But for the Catholic church, it’s the door to membership and salvation. A one-way door. Baptism “imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual sign” and creates an “ontological and permanent bond” with Jesus and the church. And this contract is recorded on a parish baptismal register, forever.
Over time and with much tumult the church has been made to accept that a marriage might end in divorce. But not a baptism. There can be no divorcing the church. And it battles the modern world to maintain the purity of this doctrine.
Yet people do want to leave. In droves. These days the church can’t burn heretics or ignore the estranged who continue to write renouncing their Catholicism. Some of these ex-Catholics have shared their experiences online.
It seems dioceses around the world have been responding – when they respond – in accordance with the abolished 2006 rules on “defection”. On written advice of defection to your diocese of baptism, the local archbishop deliberates – apparently applying the church’s criteria for the extreme measure of excommunication. If satisfied, he replies that it is sad to receive your request but a note of your desire to leave will be made on the baptismal register.
The only barely acknowledged way out of this global institution – if that’s how you can characterise such a note – is by an informal, decentralised, subterranean convention.
I wrote to the Sydney archdiocese in the week a jury would convict Pell as a choirboy rapist. Over five carefully considered A4 pages I condemned the church as cruel on abortion, euthanasia and suicide; as malign on contraception; recalcitrant on women; degenerate and prurient on gays and sex; and as criminal on child sex abuse. I wasn’t a Catholic and wanted any relevant records amended to protect me from the church, and to protect its members from ever mistaking me for a Catholic.
And then … nothing. It took two more chase-up letters over three months to rouse any response. When it came I was presented – without consultation – with that familiar vague undertaking to formally note on the baptismal register my desire to leave.
“Desire to leave” is a slippery formula – a small nod to an intention that preserves the church’s position: yes, you’d like to leave but actually … you can’t. It sidesteps the facts: you have left and you are not Catholic.
I wanted more than “desire to leave”. I demanded my own form of words on the baptismal register.
Demands on the Sydney archdiocese are best made with the backing of secular law. Under federal privacy law Australian privacy principle 13 requires entities like the Catholic church to correct personal information that is inaccurate, out of date, incomplete, irrelevant or misleading. An old baptismal entry ticks at least four of those five boxes.
Faced with the threat of a civil complaint and being hauled before the office of the Australian information commissioner, the archdiocese suddenly – after 10 months and 10 letters – relented. A photocopy of my baptismal register entry arrived with a handwritten inscription of my own little prayer of disassociation: “Considers himself not a Catholic and wants not to be dealt with as one.”
Is it worth the effort to counter a symbol to which you ascribe no meaning? That’s not the question, really. The questions are for the Catholic church.
Why does an archdiocese archive its sacraments and give up microfilm copies of its registers to posterity – in Sydney’s case its website says to the National Library of Australia, State Library of NSW and the Society of Australian Genealogists? Why does it obscure, obstruct and resist proper correction of its records? Why doesn’t it move to establish a simple, transparent process of correction? Why is it for non-believers to drift off silently? Why won’t the church let go?
The answer to each question is the same: power. The church’s business model is sin and salvation. It says you’re a sinner yet can be saved. But only if you’re one of us; only if you do as we say.
Renunciation forces the Catholic church to listen to what it refuses to hear: I reject your claim of authority over me. You cannot tell me what to do or think, how to live, whom I love or marry, what I do with my body. I am gone and you will do me this courtesy: stay the hell out of my life.
To those who want to record their vote in a referendum on the Catholic church, here’s my Easter advice. Write to the archbishop of the diocese of your baptism. Give your name, date of birth, parents’ names, location of baptism and its estimated date – enough for the foundation document, your baptismal entry, to be identified.
Reference Australian privacy principle 13 and demand the record be corrected. Specify the correction you want. My formulation sets a precedent for what the church will accept beyond “desire to leave”. Feel free to use it or try taking it further. Demand that evidence of the amendment be provided within 30 days. After then you might be in a position, if necessary, to lodge a complaint to the information commissioner.
Still, the challenge remains for the Catholic church to do so much better. I call on the church to introduce an official mechanism to fully, formally record renunciations; a register of renunciation cross-referenced to baptismal records. The mechanism should be accessible through all archdiocesan websites.
A Finnish website has automated more than 730,000 resignations from Finland’s two state churches since new freedom of religion laws were introduced in 2003. The same can be done everywhere.
Good luck to the many wonderful believing Catholics who insist it’s their church, not the bishops’, and continue to operate from within a toxic institution; fighting the good fight, doing their various good works. I love the sinner, hate the sin.
But am I a Catholic?
Q&A with former Queensland MP Jann Stuckey
From the outside, there appears to be a significant conservative block within the LNP whose members hold strong religious beliefs and act upon these in their policy making. What’s your view of this observation? Do you think there is, in general, any problem mixing religion with politics?
That’s a true assessment. And those with conservative religious views are very vocal and try to sway others to their beliefs and thinking. I have experienced this on more than one occasion, sometimes in a mild-mannered way and other times with considerable forcefulness. Once I was bailed up against the wall in parliament prior to a vote.
Do you have any specific concerns about the influence of pro-religious forces who lobby politicians, parties and parliaments for greater religious freedoms in Queensland and nationally?
Every group has a right to lobby those who have the power to legislate decisions and policy. However, what I have seen in recent years could be described as intimidating behaviour towards elected representatives, coupled with extensive advertising and campaigning. It has never fazed me, as I have always consulted widely with my electorate and relevant experts. But I am sure some MPs would have concerns they may lose their seats.
Do you have a message for people who share your values and who are thinking about getting involved in politics?
I can only speak for myself, and it’s pretty obvious what happened to me. If people have a desire to enter politics, they can choose to join a specific party based on values that are similar to their own or run as an Independent, which is technically and financially difficult.
My values are those of a moderate Liberal. But where I have differed from my party’s increasingly conservative views has been in relation to ‘conscience’ votes. Both major parties, the LNP and ALP, are making a mockery of this term, as MPs on both sides are coerced into voting along party lines, which is such a shame.
If you want to get ahead, you have to keep your head down and do as you are told. But that has never sat well with me. I have always put the needs and aspirations of the people who live in the electorate of Currumbin first.