WSJ Opinion: Trump Forces a Showdown Over Liz Cheney



Journal Editorial Report: Are Republicans in a Battle for the Party’s Soul? Image: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

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Opinion | Why Did It Take So Long to Accept the Facts About Covid?


First, Dr. Marr said, the upper limit for particles to be able to float is actually 100 microns, not five microns, as generally thought. The incorrect five-micron claim may have come about because earlier scientists conflated the size at which respiratory particles could reach the lower respiratory tract (important for studying tuberculosis) with the size at which they remain suspended in the air.

Dr. Marr said that if you inhale a particle from the air, it’s an aerosol. She agreed that droplet transmission by a larger respiratory particle is possible, if it lands on the eye, for example, but biomechanically, she said, nasal transmission faces obstacles, since nostrils point downward and the physics of particles that large makes it difficult for them to move up the nose. And in lab measurements, people emit far more of the easier-to-inhale aerosols than the droplets, she said, and even the smallest particles can be virus laden, sometimes more so than the larger ones, seemingly because of how and where they are produced in the respiratory tract.

Second, she said, proximity is conducive to transmission of aerosols as well because aerosols are more concentrated near the person emitting them. In a twist of history, modern scientists have been acting like those who equated stinky air with disease, by equating close contact, a measure of distance, only with the larger droplets, a mechanism of transmission, without examination.

Since aerosols also infect at close range, measures to prevent droplet transmission — masks and distancing — can help dampen transmission for airborne diseases as well. However, this oversight led medical people to circularly assume that if such measures worked at all, droplets must have played a big role in their transmission.

Other incorrect assumptions thrived. For example, in July, right after the letter by the hundreds of scientists challenging the droplet paradigm, Reuters reported that Dr. John Conly, who chairs a key W.H.O. infection prevention working group, said that there would be many more cases if the virus was airborne and asked, “Would we not be seeing, like, literally billions of cases globally?” He made similar claims last month. And he is not the only member of that group to assert this, a common assumption in the world of infection control well into 2021.

However, Dr. Marr pointed out, there are airborne diseases, like measles, that are highly contagious and others, like tuberculosis, that are not. Moreover, while SARS-CoV-2 is certainly not as infectious as measles on average, it can be highly infectious in the superspreading events driving the pandemic.

Many respiratory viruses carried by aerosols survive better in colder environments and lower relative humidity, Dr. Marr said, again fitting the pattern of outbreaks around the world, for example, in many meatpacking plants. Plus, some activities produce more aerosols — talking, yelling, singing, exercising — also fitting the pattern of outbreaks globally.

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Opinion: Rick Santorum needs to go back to school






Opinion: Rick Santorum needs to go back to school | Fortune



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WSJ Opinion: Joe Biden’s Art of the Non-Deal



Wonder Land: Negotiating with the opposition, the left concluded, merely impedes achieving their policy goals. Images: AP/Bloomberg News/Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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We should be funding stress leave and high-quality PTSD care for all victims of abuse | Richard Dennis | Opinion


Practical support for the thousands of Australian women who are sexually or physically assaulted by men is not simply woefully inadequate, it is nonexistent. If you are a casually employed woman in Australia who is raped or assaulted you are entitled to five days unpaid leave. In short, just beginning to recover from an attack would cost a woman on minimum wage more than $700 a week.

Imagine having to go to work in the days after a physical or sexual assault because you couldn’t afford not to. There is no rent holiday for victims of violence, nor is there a discount at the supermarket. Imagine having to front up at Centrelink, or for a job interview, in the days after an assault because you feared being “breached” and losing your unemployment payments.

But of course, if you are a government minister who is accused of failing to support an employee who alleges to have been raped on your watch, or a minister accused of committing rape, you could be placed on taxpayer-funded medical leave and paid $7,000 a week.

Christian Porter has strenuously denied the allegations that have been made against him and is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

But no one can deny that MPs suffering stress and anxiety are provided with far more taxpayer support than women who have been the victim of violence.

And while no one doubts the genuine pressure that Porter is under, does anyone believe that those who are the victims of physical or sexual violence are in less need of help?

There should be significant government spending on paid leave and mental health support services for the victims of assault that affect more than 100,000 women each year.

Providing all victims of sexual or domestic violence with the kind of support offered to highly-paid ministers would cost billions of dollars a year. And – let’s be clear – employers don’t want to pay for such support and neither does the Morrison government. But let’s also be clear that the money is there. Australia is one of the richest countries in the world and, as described below, we never struggle to find the money when tax cuts for high-income blokes are on the table. It’s not just leave for women recovering from violence that we need to adequately fund and fairly distribute, it’s mental health care as well.

When soldiers, emergency service workers or medical professionals experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of what they endure in the workplace, the government (rightly) picks up the very expensive tab for treating their condition and helping them heal. But when women and children develop PTSD because of what they endure at the hands of violent men there is far less such support. We know how to help people with PTSD, but we choose to provide far more help to those who develop it at work than those who develop it at the hands of a violent man.

It would cost a lot of money to help hundreds of thousands of women and children heal the scars that men gave them and, to be blunt, it looks like the government has no interest in spending that much money on a “women’s problem”. It is not that the government “can’t afford” to spend billions helping women and children – it’s that it has quite different priorities.

In 2018 it was reported that sexual assault victims were waiting up to 14 months for counselling as specialist support services were so desperately underfunded and under-resourced.

Each year the government spends around $41bn on superannuation tax concessions to help some of us have a more comfortable retirement. Around $21bn of that goes to those in the top 20%, most of whom are blokes. But I bet you have never heard a Morrison government minister say that the government “can’t afford” to help rich blokes retire even richer.

Then there’s the looming tax cuts. By July 2024 people earning more than $200,000 a year (or $3,900 a week) will reap a more than $9,000 a year windfall in the form of Stage 3 tax cuts. And, you guessed it, 74% of people earning that much are blokes. Despite these tax cuts costing almost $19bn a year, again, we have not heard a peep from the Coalition about these enormous and permanent tax cuts being “unaffordable” or “unsustainable”. Such negative adjectives are only ever used to describe spending on those in need.

Australia is so rich that even in the middle of a pandemic we can afford to spend $500m extending the Canberra war memorial and $1.2bn subsidising half-price flights to north Queensland and other tourist hotspots. But, despite our wealth and despite recognising the benefits of stress leave for members of his cabinet, the PM does not seem to think that his government should be funding stress leave and high-quality PTSD care for all victims of abuse.

We all know how hard people find it to tell Scott Morrison what is going on. But we also all know that conversations with his ministers have clearly made him understand the benefits of letting those who have experienced severe stress recover before they return to work.

If only the prime minister would have a conversation with women who had to return to work just days after they were raped, or with students who have to go back to school with those who raped them. Perhaps he would stop trying to “draw a line” under this crisis, and start trying to help those who have been harmed by it.

Richard Denniss is chief economist at independent thinktank The Australia Institute @RDNS_TAI

In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. International helplines can be found via www.befrienders.org.

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WSJ Opinion: Yellow Journalism Turns Blue



Potomac Watch: Ron Johnson is under attack from a press that’s abandoned honesty and fairness, committing to Democratic Paty power instead. Images: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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NRL’s formal warning to Toby Rudolf over sexist ‘joke’ sets precedent, divides opinion


The NRL community is divided over a formal warning being handed to Shark’s prop Toby Rudolf following a comment he made degrading women during a live television interview.

Appearing on The Matty Johns Show on Sunday, and asked how he planned to celebrate the Sharks’ win over the Dragons, Rudolf responded: “Probably about 1000 beers. Probably go to Northies, try and pull something — anything will do.

He quickly continued: “No, honestly, it’s all about recovery these days. I’ll be going straight home, straight to the ice bath and staying very, very quiet.”

On Tuesday, it was reported that NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo had issued Rudolf a written warning, condemning his comments.  

“I was very disappointed with Toby’s comments, they were inappropriate and should not have been said,” Abdo said.

“Respect for women is one of the foundations of our society and our players, as role models, need to be leaders in this area.”

The warning set a new precedent reminding players to rethink their language when talking about women, drawing both support and criticism.

Patty Kinnsley, chief executive of Our Watch, a group that campaigns on violence against women and their children in Australia, said sexist jokes reflect and reinforce sexist attitudes.

“Sexist jokes may seem like a bit of ‘harmless banter’ or ‘just a bit of fun’, but if we let them go unchallenged, we are excusing, trivialising and condoning the kind of harmful gender stereotypes and discrimination against women that we know underpins violence,” she said.

Players past and present have jumped to Rudolf’s defence, saying his comment was simply a joke, but Kinnsley said society would no longer tolerate under-educated men.

“It can be difficult for some men to make the link between so-called jokes and broader gender inequality because it feels normalised, but really, Australia is moving on and recognising that there are many ways to be a man, that don’t rely on making degrading comments towards women or that have to be linked to displays of male sexual entitlement.”

Manly Sea Eagles skipper Daly Cherry-Evans said the formal warning would only serve to silence players.

A male Queensland State of Origin player looks down at the ground against New South Wales.
Sea Eagles skipper Daly Cherry-Evans says Rudolf’s comment was simply light-hearted humour.(

AAP: Brendon Thorne

)

“We want fan interaction, we want engagement in the game, we want people to love our sport. But we don’t want someone to be themselves,” The Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) director said.

“Good on him for speaking his mind and being himself.

“It’s a shame that there’s been repercussions for something that, I think for a lot of people, would be only looked at as just very light-hearted humour.”

Former player-turned-TV-pundit Bryan Fletcher, who asked the question to Rudolf, had a similar view to Cherry-Evans, which he expressed on his SEN morning radio show.

“It was so clearly a joke … you could tell by his body language as well,” Fletcher said on Tuesday.

“It’s so hard to get players after a game to act like they want to act.

“You know what’s going to happen now after this? The players are going to give their robotic, boring answers going forward. That’s not entertaining.”

Former Cronulla Sharks skipper Paul Gallen echoed Fletcher’s comments.

“That’s overstepping the mark (the issue of a formal warning),” Gallen told Wide World of Sports Radio on 2GB.

“You could tell he was joking. He actually said straight away, ‘Nah it’s all about recovery, I’ll be recovering for the next game’.

“I think it’s sad. I think it’s sad that people are going to complain about what he said.”

Former Sharks prop says the NRL got it wrong.
Former Sharks prop says the NRL got it wrong.(

AAP Image: Julian Smith

)

This debate comes after Monday’s ‘March 4Justice’, when tens of thousands of people marched across the country protesting against the sexual abuse and harassment of women in Australia.

The NRL had already begun to take action when dealing with inappropriate player behaviour — the interim stand-down rule, which has withstood multiple legal challenges, is an example of this.

The stand down rule, which the RLPA has fought against, was introduced in part to stop money exiting the game because of player behaviour and the game’s perceived negative attitude towards women.

The ARLC culture review, which is due in a matter of months, has looked at this connection between gender inequality, sexism and violence against women in the game —an ugly attitude and behaviour the NRL wants to stamp out.

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Childcare costs in Australia | Deborah Knight opinion


OPINION: It’s interesting to see these full-page ads in today’s papers, signed by an impressive list of Australian business and corporate heavyweights.

Heads of charities and superannuation funds, union and education bosses – and they all happen to be women.

They’re successful in their own right.

Deb Knight
Deborah Knight says more affordable childcare should be key step to reducing the gender pay gap. (Instagram)

Women like Nicola Forrest, who heads up the Mindaroo Foundation; the CEO of Fortescue Metals, Elizabeth Gaines; and the wonderful Ronnie Kahn from Oz Harvest, who I’ve spoken to a number of times on my radio show about her charity work.

And they make a lot of sense.

They’ve written an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for help to get more women into the workforce and top of the list is childcare, making it more affordable for all families so more women who want to take up full-time work can. 

If we want to fix the gender pay gap, so women can take up more than just part-time work, we need to look at childcare.

As it stands, women make up two-thirds of all part-time workers – and the biggest barrier to working more hours is the cost of childcare.

It costs so much that many women are just working to cover the cost of the childcare fees – up to $200 a day in some centres.

And that makes no sense at all – no sense for families or the economy overall.

That’s a massive untapped resource dragging down our economic growth.

It’s estimated an extra $60 billion could be added to our economy over the next two decades if we got childcare right.

That’s a lot of untapped potential.

We got a taste of free childcare during the peak of the pandemic and it’s something that needs to be looked at in the longer term. 

Billions could be added to the Australian economy if we get our childcare policy right, Deborah Knight writes. (iStock)

If we want to fix the gender pay gap, so women can take up more than just part-time work, we need to look at childcare.

And it’s not just something to benefit women or families – it will help all of us.

If we want our economy to grow at the rate it could, to help us all, the cost of childcare has to be looked at.

Money doesn’t grow on trees – we know that – and we have to spend taxpayers dollars wisely.

But delivering more affordable childcare is a win-win and it should be on the table in this year’s budget.

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Opinion: Sheldon Whitehouse vs. the Supreme Court


Senator Sheldon Whitehouse



Photo:

Susan Walsh – Pool Via Cnp/Zuma Press

Sheldon Whitehouse

is at it again. The Senator who threatened the Supreme Court with retribution over a gun-rights case in 2019 is now threatening Congressional action if the Justices don’t follow his orders on how they conduct judicial business.

On Wednesday the Rhode Island Democrat will hold a Judiciary Committee hearing on “What’s Wrong with the Supreme Court: The Big-Money Assault on Our Judiciary.” Subtlety is not Sheldon’s speciality. The hearing is intended to advance his Amicus Act that would force the Court to change its rules on amicus briefs, which the Justices invite to inform them on the law and facts on cases.

Note the disrespect for the Court. The title of the hearing signals a foregone conclusion that the Justices are corrupted by money. This is a running theme of Mr. Whitehouse, whose preoccupations in the Senate have been undermining judicial independence and restricting the First Amendment rights of private citizens to influence their government.

The Supreme Court already has a rule—37.6—that governs amicus filings. It requires that amicus briefs “indicate whether counsel for a party” involved in the litigation “authored” or “made a monetary contribution” to the preparation of the brief. It further requires disclosure of “every person other than the amicus, its members or counsel, who made such a monetary contribution.”

Mr. Whitehouse wants to go further and require amicus filers to disclose all of their donors. This would hit groups on the left and right that aren’t required to disclose their donors but have scholars or legal experts who submit briefs. The Chamber of Commerce and NAACP would have to disclose all of their donors if they want to file briefs. This would deter some filers and thus less fully inform the Court, or it would open donors to these groups to political harassment—from the likes of Mr. Whitehouse and his political allies.

All of this is almost certainly a violation of the First Amendment right to free association and speech. The Supreme Court ruled in NAACP v. Alabama (1958) that forcing donor disclosure can chill such rights. Mr. Whitehouse nods to this concern but claims that “granting sweeping anonymity protections to all member organizations, including business networks like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce whose corporate members face no serious threat of reprisal for the public expression of their views, simply does not follow.”

In other words, some groups have a right to free association but others don’t. Mr. Whitehouse will be the judge.

The Senator’s quote comes from a Feb. 23 letter he co-wrote with

Rep. Henry Johnson

(D., Ga.) to the chairman of the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the U.S. Judicial Conference. The committee writes guidelines for judicial practice, and the letter says “we believe a legislative solution may be in order to ensure much-needed transparency around judicial lobbying.” The Amicus Act is helpfully attached.

This is a clear threat that, if the courts don’t follow his orders, Congress will rewrite the judicial rules. The Amicus Act probably wouldn’t pass today’s 50-50 Senate, but the Senator is sending a message to Chief Justice

John Roberts.

The Chief joined the liberals in backing away from ruling on a New York gun regulation after Mr. Whitehouse and four other Senators wrote an amicus brief threatening that the Court might have to be “restructured” if the Justices ruled the wrong way.

We hope the Court ignores these threats, but it can also fight back though the law. The Court recently agreed to hear a case challenging California’s donor disclosure rules, Americans for Prosperity Foundation v.

Becerra

. The NAACP, the ACLU and other progressive groups have joined the Cato Institute and others on the right in filing amicus briefs against the law as a violation of their First Amendment right of association.

If the Justices overturn California’s law, they will send a message to Mr. Whitehouse that his disclosure obsession is way over the constitutional line.

Main Street: For criticizing H.R.1 as an “unconstitutional power grab,” Mike Pence is accused of spreading Donald Trump’s ‘big lie.’ Images: AFP via Getty Images/AP Composite: Mark Kelly

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Appeared in the March 10, 2021, print edition as ‘Sheldon Whitehouse vs. Supreme Court.’

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Opinion: Nursing China’s Debt Hangover


A large screen displays Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivering a speech during the opening session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), in Beijing on March 5.



Photo:

str/Shutterstock

In any other country, an official target of 6% annual economic growth would be almost preposterous. In China that target, announced Friday, is so modest it’s clear something else is going on. That something: Beijing’s escalating fears about a rumbling debt volcano.

Many observers were left scratching their heads when Premier

Li Keqiang

revealed the 6% GDP-growth goal at the annual National People’s Congress. Most economists expect an expansion between 8% and 10%. Since the comparison is with last year’s pandemic slowdown, it would be all but impossible for China not to achieve 6% growth. Last year Beijing didn’t publish any growth target for the first time since the mid-1990s, and it might have made sense not to revive GDP targeting.

So why publish a lowball target that China is assured of reaching? A plausible theory is that this is part of a strategy to rein in debt. More aggressive GDP targets have historically goaded governments at the central, provincial and local levels to goose the numbers by using cheap credit to fund white-elephant public-works projects or to subsidize politically connected companies. Perhaps Mr. Li and his boss, President

Xi Jinping,

hope that setting a modest target will signal their displeasure with this strategy.

If so, they need to signal harder. Elsewhere in the economic plan, Beijing is tightening the limit on local-government borrowing for public works—barely. The quota for such bond issuance will fall to 3.65 trillion yuan ($562 billion) from 3.75 trillion yuan last year—a decline to about 3.4% of GDP from 3.7%. Given how saturated China is with infrastructure after previous stimulus drives, it’s hard to say what this new borrowing will buy.

Beijing knows the magnitude of the challenge it faces. Total debt has risen to some 270% of GDP from 250% before the pandemic. Too much of that credit has gone to government boondoggles, state-owned enterprises and real estate; too little has gone to productive private enterprises. Banking regulator

Guo Shuqing

highlighted the problem when he warned this week about a “bubble” in Chinese property prices.

Solving it will be another matter. So far, Beijing is sticking to its strategy of tolerating a higher number of credit defaults, including by state-owned firms. Capital Economics calculates that in the past six months, and for the first time, more state-owned firms than private companies have defaulted.

Defaults are reaching into the sensitive property industry and foreign-denominated bonds, as when China Fortune Land Development this week defaulted on a $530 million overseas bond issue. The aim is to discipline markets, but not too much. Beijing also is leaning on defaulting firms to reach repayment agreements with creditors, perhaps to discipline corporate managers while limiting creditors’ losses.

Against all these challenges, 6% may be a realistic GDP growth target this year, and China has exceeded expectations before. But a global economy laid low by Covid-19 can ill afford for the second-largest economy to catch a debt flu.

Paul Gigot interviews former Trump national-security official Matthew Pottinger. Photo: ZUMA Press

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