Episode 263 – Elimination or Suppression

In this episode, we discuss the pros and cons of an elimination strategy for Covid-19 in Australia, the usefulness of masks, the special treatment of Danii Minogue, the cancellation of Martina Navratilova and a protestor in New York who wants to refund the police.

It’s bad, but not so bad

From the Reserve bank

Statement May 2020

The Australian economy is expected to record a contraction in GDP of around 10 per cent over the first half of 2020; total hours worked are expected to decline by around 20 per cent and the unemployment rate is forecast to rise to around 10 per cent in the June quarter. Headline inflation is expected to be negative in the June quarter largely as a result of lower fuel prices and free child care; underlying inflation is expected to decline notably.


Super spreaders

Suppression or Elimination

What should we be aiming for?

I thought elimination of COVID-19 was not possible in Australia – now I’ve changed my mind

From Gregory Dore in the SMH

There are several reasons why an Australian COVID-19 elimination strategy should be considered. First, as outlined, there is empirical data demonstrating feasibility. Second, despite potential for prolonged restrictions in settings with current spread, I believe the community would support an elimination strategy. Such a strategy would require national political consensus, and clear jurisdictional and national-level public health messaging. Crucially, the resurgence in Melbourne and outbreak in Sydney have re-engaged the community, after most members had become complacent.

Third, an elimination strategy would acknowledge complete and maintained elimination may not be achievable, but low-level community transmission would be a welcome second-best outcome. Fourth, in uncertain times efforts towards elimination could provide greater certainty as we await an effective vaccine. Fifth, a requirement for keeping international borders closed under an elimination strategy is no different to the current situation under a suppression strategy.

Finally, the initial national pride in Australia’s response to the epidemic, despite considerable personal and economic constraints, would be greatly enhanced through achieving elimination. If unsuccessful, the majority of the community would not be critical of our political and public health leaders for making a concerted effort towards elimination.

Having watched the COVID-19 elimination bus do its rounds with a few rowdy passengers, I have decided to flag it down and climb aboard.

Professor Gregory Dore is an infectious diseases physician and epidemiologist at the Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney.



Is it OK for Victoria to make them mandatory?

It seems they do their best work indoors to protect family members.

In the UK teenagers are getting alcohol

Cheeky teens are using coronavirus face coverings to dress up as pensioners and buy booze.

Donning the face coverings to hide their youthful looks, they make a few adjustments to their clothing and hair and find themselves walking out of the stores with bags of drink, before posting the results on social media.

The craze is sweeping the video sharing social media app TikTok as the teens exploit the coronavirus crisis to avoid being asked for ID for the alcohol.

Multiple videos show underage drinkers applying white powder to their hair to mimic the greying locks of senior citizens and donning older-style clothes before dropping in on the liquor store.

One even decided to don medical gloves to hide her youthful skin on her hands, while the mask covered her young face.

Unsurprisingly, several video posts have gone viral, with some in the millions of views.


Someone orders 9 pizzas

Should they be reported to the police?

From the ABC

Under what circumstances, and with how much evidence, should you report someone for possibly breaking coronavirus restrictions?

That debate has been raging in a Facebook community group for the inner Melbourne suburb of Richmond, and reached its peak this week when a restaurant owner posted a photo of an order for nine pizzas.

“Somebody is having a party I assume. Definitely a shame. Put yourself in my shoes, what would you do?” Salvatore Micali asked.

The responses reveal a community split between wanting to trust each other and seeing COVID enemies in their midst as the number of cases rises.

Salvatore declined to say what he ended up doing, except to add: “I played my role for the Richmond community.”

He later posted to the group that “a gathering attempt was stopped”.

In many respects, it’s no different to reporting any other alleged crime you might witness.

That’s part of the social contract we have for being a good citizen, and we embrace it for far less serious breaches.

Victorians can even sign up to be a “registered litter reporter”, for example, as part of a program specifically created to let people report someone dropping rubbish from a vehicle.

What feels different here is that in the face of such an insidious threat, and with anecdotal reinforcement from authorities that some people are doing the wrong thing, some feel spurred — obligated even — to not just report what they see but to root it out.

To keep watch. Take notes. Report.

Danni Minogue

Is her special arrangement ok?

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer denies celebrity Dannii Minogue received special treatment, after it was revealed the presenter was allowed to bypass costly hotel quarantine and self-isolate at a private residence instead.

The 48-year-old arrived at Gold Coast airport with her son over the weekend after travelling from the US.

Under Queensland’s current restrictions, anyone returning from overseas is required to undertake a mandatory two-week quarantine at a hotel at a cost of about $2800.

Dr Young said because Ms Minogue had a COVID-safe plan managed by a “third party” and because she was managing all the costs of her quarantine, she was allowed to stay in private accommodation, believed to be Ms Minogue’s own residence on the Gold Coast.

The Chief Health Officer said people in the film and TV industry, as well as a number of other groups including consular officials, ADF personnel, and oil and gas industry workers had also been allowed to avoid mandatory hotel quarantine.

I believe I’ve given 38 such exemptions to date for mandatory hotel quarantine. But they need to then quarantine in a place that I am satisfied adheres to the same requirements,” Dr Young said on Tuesday.

Hillsong Update

How is Waz’s conversion going?

Cancel Culture and Martina Navratilova

From The Intercept

By Glen Greenwald

How “Cancel Culture” Repeatedly Emerged in My Attempt to Make a Film About Tennis Legend Martina Navratilova

GROWING UP AS a gay child in South Florida in the late 1970s and into the dark 1980s era of Reagan and AIDS, my childhood hero was the tennis star Martina Navratilova. In 1975, at the age of 18, Navratilova fled Communist Czechoslovakia, leaving her entire family behind in a daring escape, to emigrate to the U.S. In the 1980s, she became one of the only openly gay celebrities in the world, an LGBT and feminist pioneer, and an outspoken political dissident.

Everything about Navratilova was defiant, individualistic, brave, trailblazing, and orthodoxy-busting: in retrospect, she was a classic existential hero, someone who refused to have her life constrained or identity suppressed by societal dictates.

Not only was she openly gay at a time when very few were, but she traveled the world with her then-wife Judy Nelson, sitting her prominently in her player’s box and forcing male sports network announcers to awkwardly struggle for a vocabulary to describe their relationship when the camera panned to her group of supporters (they usually settled on “Martina’s special friend” or “long-time companion”).

In 1981, Navratilova hired as her coach a transgender woman Dr. Renée Richards — a former Navy pilot, eye surgeon, and captain of the Yale tennis team — who had, in the 1970s, successfully sued the Woman’s Tennis Association for the right to complete in professional women’s tournaments. Decades before the world would celebrate or even know about Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner, and Chaz Bono, there, alongside Navratilova’s wife at the planet’s most lucrative corporate televised sporting events was, thanks to Navratilova, one of the only visible trans women in the world. Richards coached Navratilova to two Wimbledon championships.

All of this cost Navratilova millions of dollars in commercial endorsements, as her rival, the heterosexual, all-American girl-next-door Chris Evert became America’s sweetheart and the lucrative face of corporate America.

But Navratilova, for all the booing and jeers and journalistic insults she endured, never flinched from her pioneering role on behalf of female athletes, gay equality, and trans visibility.

In 2017, I decided to make a feature-length documentary not only about Navratilova’s life …

… the major factor that delayed the film, perhaps permanently, was a series of episodes associated with what is often called “cancel culture.”

THE FIRST STEP after signing our development deal with Witherspoon’s company was to find a director and, beyond that, someone who would collaborate in shaping all aspects of the film. I immediately knew who I wanted: Kimberly Peirce, who had directed the extraordinary and groundbreaking 1999 film “Boys Don’t Cry.”

That film was based on the true story of Brandon Teena, a trans boy who was raped and murdered in Nebraska in 1993 just weeks after turning 21.

Peirce fought for more than three years just to get the film made. It ended up a smashing success: produced for less than $2 million, it earned more than $20 million in box office receipts internationally. More remarkably, it earned an Academy Award nomination for the then-unknown Chloë Sevigny as Best Supporting Actress, while the relatively obscure Hilary Swank was chosen by the Academy over Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Annette Bening as Best Actress for her role as Teena. To play the role, Peirce required the 24-year-old Swank to live as a man for months prior to filming. The success of “Boys Don’t Cry” made Peirce one of the most sought-after young directors in Hollywood.

Peirce’s success with “Boys Don’t Cry” catapulted the issue of violence against trans people into mainstream discourse.

Another thing I learned is what happened to Peirce after being invited in 2016 to speak about “Boys Don’t Cry” at Reed College in Oregon. The speech was to take place after a showing of the film. But almost immediately after Peirce tried to begin to speak, student protesters rushed the stage and began screaming and hurling insults and epithets. Signs had been posted aimed at Peirce that read: “Fuck Your Transphobia,” “You Don’t Fucking Get It,” and “Fuck This Cis White Bitch.” For more than two hours, screaming students refused to let Peirce speak and vowed never to let the event happen at Reed. Peirce stood accused of transphobia.

How did the gender nonbinary director of one the most groundbreaking films for trans people ever produced by Hollywood become the violent enemy of these trans activists to the point of being deemed so irremediably evil that Reed students could not hear the event? They accused Peirce of being a profiteer off of trans lives and a privileged “cis woman” for having cast another cis woman, Swank, in the role of Teena, rather than a trans male actor.

Peirce tried explaining that, though she wanted to cast a trans male actor and interviewed many, at the time she could not find an openly trans male actor in Hollywood who could carry the film the way Swank was able to; that Peirce was not a cisgender woman but gender fluid; that the condition for Swank being cast was she had to live as a male for months before shooting; and that the Oscar that Swank won over Hollywood’s most acclaimed actresses was proof that she did justice to Teena.

Found a new director

But then, in December 2018, everything changed. Navratilova had seen photos posted on Twitter of a trans woman who, without undergoing sex reassignment surgery, was competing as a professional athlete in women’s sports, specifically cycling. This trans woman was not only competing but beginning to win, sometimes in a dominant fashion, even though, in her mid-30s, she was already past the normal prime for cycling competition. Navratilova observed that she was vanquishing professional female athletes who were cis women and had lived their entire lives, and gone through puberty, as women.

Navratilova, after seeing the photo, wondered aloud whether trans women who have not had sex-reassignment surgery and who have lived most of their lives as men should be able to compete in female sports. Do people who are assigned male at birth and go through puberty and develop muscle mass and other secondary characteristics have an unfair advantage no matter how many hormones they take, Navratilova seemed to ponder aloud?

It takes little imagination to guess what the reaction was to this tweet. The denunciations of Navratilova as an anti-trans bigot were instantaneous, swift, and brutal, and they took zero account of her lifetime, pioneering devotion to LGBT equality, including the extensive and sustained sacrifices she made by having a trans woman as a coach decades ago when gay women, to say nothing of trans women, were all but invisible. All of that activism and courageous sacrifice for her beliefs was all wiped out with a single tweet.


Navratilova then went into full-blown repentance mode. She repeatedly apologized for her initial tweet. She vowed to delete any tweets that trans people found offensive, insisting that she spoke without having thought the issue through sufficiently and without having been informed. She took a vow of silence, promising to listen and not speak on the subject again until she could properly inform herself.

But none of that was good enough. Even after deleting the offending tweets and apologizing, Navratilova continued to be branded an anti-trans bigot. She was told that she had “harmed” trans people and that deleting her tweets and apologizing was not enough. She was not being attacked and denounced, she was told, but merely “held accountable” by those she had harmed.

Navratilova, as promised, did not speak again on these issues two months. When she finally did, it caused an explosion in this debate.

On February 17, 2019, in an op-ed in the London Times, she published a column recounting that she had promised to study the issue further and, in typical fashion, boldly and fearlessly announced: “Well, I’ve now done that and, if anything, my views have strengthened.”

Not only did she reaffirm her view that it was unfair for trans women to complete against cis women in professional sports, but now she went further, declaring it a form of “cheating,” particularly when sex-reassignment surgery was not required but instead merely a regimen of hormone treatments that could be reversed at any time. Navratilova wrote:

To put the argument at its most basic: a man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organisation is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires….It’s insane and it’s cheating. I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair.

What happened here seems clear. Navratilova began by asking an earnest question, one which is on the minds of many people as they watch these profound societal changes but are uninformed about the science and the specific claims invoked to justify these changes. Once she was excoriated without any mercy or understanding, it drove her further into a feeling of alienation from her accusers.


Cancel Culture and Beans

From The NY Times

How Buying Beans Became a Political Statement

The boycott and counter-boycott of Goya comes as the major political parties seek to energize Hispanic support ahead of the 2020 election.

For years, the Goya brand was synonymous with the Latino-American dream. The sheer number of products that lined the grocery store aisles — from refried pinto beans to sazón con azafran seasoning — spoke to the growing number of Hispanic immigrants who bought them. Goya, the nation’s largest Hispanic food company, has sponsored Dominican art shows, mariachi contests and soccer programs.

Advisers to President Trump considered it a victory when Goya’s chief executive, Robert Unanue, agreed to appear at the White House rollout of what it called the Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, an executive order that promised better access to education and employment for Hispanics.

In the Rose Garden on July 9, Mr. Unanue praised Mr. Trump and compared him to his grandfather, who founded Goya.

“We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder,” Mr. Unanue said. “And that’s what my grandfather did.”

And just like that, a once-beloved brand became anathema in many Latino homes across the United States. People posted videos and photos of themselves clearing out their pantries and tossing cans of Goya beans into the trash. It became a symbol of political resistance to share recipes for Goya product substitutes. “Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling ‘how to make your own Adobo,’” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York wrote on Twitter, referring to a popular seasoning that Goya sells.

Almost immediately, Trump loyalists pushed back — filling shopping carts full of Goya products and posting videos of themselves dutifully swallowing Goya beans.

By the time Ivanka Trump tweeted an endorsement of Goya, one thing had become clear: In a polarized country, at a polarized time, the buying of beans had become a political act.

A few days later, Mr. Trump circulated a photo of himself sitting in the Oval Office, smiling widely and with his thumbs up, in front of several Goya products, including a package of chocolate wafers and coconut milk.

Refund the Police

The link

They don’t care about black lives. Refund the police. Jesus matters. Trump 2020

“Why don’t you stop her?”

Navy Chaplains

Apparently a theology degree is not useful.

From the NSL

Testimony given by one of the Australian Defence Force’s top chaplains has further brought into question the employment of solely religious chaplains in Australia’s military.

In evidence given to the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal in early 2020, Navy Director General Chaplaincy and Principal Chaplain Collin Acton (pictured) said that theological degrees did little to prepare religious chaplains for the provision of pastoral care required in the modern ADF.

The ‘Decision’ document published by the tribunal, which ruled in March to allow secular chaplains into the Navy in the form of Maritime Spiritual Wellbeing Officers, also reveals that 95 per cent of chaplains’ time is spent on non-religious pastoral care and wellbeing support.

Evidence provided by Principal Chaplain Acton and Captain S Bowater succinctly identified the problems with the Navy only providing religious chaplains when the majority of personnel are non-religious.


Religious chaplains were said to be ill-prepared to deal with generally non-religious pastoral care, which requires mental health expertise.

The document quoted Principal Chaplain Acton as saying:

“…the role of the Navy Chaplain has completely changed” and that they “have taken on a pastoral care role, of which in the past clergy probably did very little.”

“…the types of pastoral care we regularly deal with include such issues as relationship breakdown, family and domestic violence, anxiety/depression, suicide ideation and the wider complexities around members having trouble at work, finding it difficult making friends in a new posting location, being lonely or finding life challenging.”

“…there is little in a theological degree that prepares a chaplain for the practical pastoral and mental health related issues.”

The document notes that the ADF’s ‘Chaplaincy Reporting Tool’, which is used to monitor the type of work the chaplains do, shows that about 95 per cent of chaplains’ time is spent on non-religious pastoral care and wellbeing support.


The document outlines concerns that serving personnel and their families are sometimes reluctant to access pastoral support from religious chaplains.

The document quotes Captain Bowater as saying:

“…in the absence of a neutral member to fulfil the pastoral and wellbeing role currently provided by Navy’s Chaplain, some people would not seek their help and may be troubled and unable to focus on their roles and responsibilities as we need them to do.”

“(The Navy) requires a qualified Branch that is focused on the wellbeing of its people, regardless of whether the Branch’s members are religious or not.”


The evidence provided laments that the lack of diversity among the chaplaincy rank, suggesting it hinders the ability of chaplains to connect with younger service personnel.

Principal Chaplain Acton is quoted as saying:

“…gender may also be a barrier to care”, given that the branch consists of 29 men and five full time women.

“…another factor that can, at times, be a barrier to care is the age of the Chaplain” as the “median age of the Navy Chaplaincy Branch is low to mid-fifties.”

National Secular Lobby president Peter Monk says the evidence adds further urgency to the need for the Army and Air Force to secularise the wellbeing and support services offered to military personnel.

“If this is what highly ranked people within the Navy have been saying about the taxpayer-funded religious chaplaincy service, then the case is sure to be similar in the Army and Air Force,” he says.

“Australians expect our service personnel to be able to access the best possible range of wellbeing and mental health support. Based on the testimony from these respected officers, it is obvious that a professionally trained secular wellbeing officer is often the best fit for the job.”

Read the full Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal ‘Decision’ document here: https://bit.ly/3gDnF4S

We’re shining a light on the overly-religious nature of Australia’s military so appropriate steps can be taken to make it secular. If you agree that it’s time for Australia to have a secular military, SHARE this post with your friends! If you have a story or some insight that you’d like to share, send a message to our inbox.

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