Religious discrimination bill will create an unholy mess


The notes provide: “A Satanist requests that a publisher print materials that promote the teachings of Satanism. A Jewish employee of the publisher requests that she not be required to facilitate the order …”

How would the Bill resolve this issue? According to the notes, the employer cannot require the employee to undertake the task if another employee can do the work or “where alternative publishers are reasonably available to facilitate the order”.

In other words, an employee can refuse to perform the core component of their role (in this case, publishing materials) solely on the basis of their personal religious beliefs, even if this means sending the customer’s business to a competitor.

This would give employees the right to veto the decisions of their employer, including what goods and services are offered and to whom.

And what of the customer? In this example, they are turned away by the publisher because their religious belief does not accord with that of the employee, which is surely the type of discrimination that should be prohibited under a genuine Religious Discrimination Bill.

It’s important also to get a sense of how far this would go. If this is how the Bill is intended to operate, employees may refuse to provide goods or services to a wide range of people because of the employee’s religious beliefs: not just to people from different religions, or no religion, but to single parents, unmarried couples, women, people with disability and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people, among others.

Importantly, from the customer’s perspective, there is no way of knowing in advance whether a particular business will refuse to serve them. Based on the scenario set out in the explanatory notes, any commercial business could turn away any customer based on the religious beliefs of an individual worker. That is a recipe for chaos.

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And it will leave employers around the state in an invidious position: either they compel their employee to perform the inherent requirements of their job and risk the employee claiming discrimination on the basis of religious belief, or they refuse to provide goods and services to customers on the basis of who they are and guarantee not just loss of income, but risk a discrimination complaint from the customer instead.

It’s an unholy mess.

In reality, many employers may end up doing the very thing a well-drafted religious discrimination bill should prevent: refuse to hire deeply religious people because of a fear they could cause serious damage to their business.

The Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill’s notes provide plenty of other examples of different ways in which One Nation is seeking to tip the scales of our anti-discrimination law in favour of religious individuals and organisations above the legitimate rights of others.

But this parable of the publisher alone should be sufficient for businesses to not just be alert, but seriously alarmed, about the unworkable nightmare that would be created if this legislation is allowed to pass.

Alastair Lawrie is the senior policy officer at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

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Super Rugby goes from world’s best to unholy mess


The clock is ticking ever louder as powerbrokers squabble over ways to save

New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa wrapped up at the weekend and was a huge success, played in packed stadiums until the final weekend, when fans were locked out of one game and another was cancelled because of a surge in Covid-19 cases.

In contrast, Super Rugby AU started slowly with lean crowds, but it has gained traction after some high-quality matches which have left all teams bar the Western Force in contention with three rounds left.

With a stalemate looming in the negotiations, senior figures on both sides of the Tasman are urging a compromise for the good of the game.

Blues coach Leon MacDonald said a New Zealand competition without the Australians would be viable, but it would be stronger with them.

“Their teams are really starting to get their mojos back and look really strong, so I’d really like to see the Australians involved in some capacity,” he told reporters.

There were similar sentiments in Australia from the Waratahs’ New Zealand-born coach, Rob Penney.

“From a Kiwi’s perspective, it’s always great to play the Australians, there’s something very special about that relationship,” he said.

‘Suits us to go north’

With 15 teams from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and Japan, Super Rugby was already struggling before the coronavirus hit.

It was seen as unwieldy and expensive to run, with too much travel for elite players and a global format straddling so many time zones that fans found it hard to follow.

Japan’s Sunwolves were due to be axed at the end of this season to trim the number of teams, but Covid-19 forced the contemplation of more drastic alternatives.

Governing body Sanzaar insists it still has a part to play, even though Australia and New Zealand have left it out in the cold on discussions about Super Rugby’s future.

Chief executive Andy Marinos said in a recent statement that member unions “remain committed to the long-term future (of Sanzaar) as a joint venture”.

Rugby Australia offered an olive branch last week, floating a Champions League-style Super 8 event that would involve the top teams from the Sanzaar nations competing at the conclusion of any domestic tournaments.

New Zealand is yet to respond but SA Rugby president Mark Alexander appeared lukewarm: “What Australia put out (Super 8) is their view, not Sanzaar’s. Maybe they are trying to create hype,” he said.

OPINION | Super 8 idea perhaps not so far-fetched

Rumours suggest South Africa’s teams – the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers – will head to Europe next year to an expanded PRO14, but Alexander said nothing had been decided.

“There are a couple of options. The guys (at Sanzaar) are actually still in debate – that’s why it is a bit premature to announce anything,” he said.

Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett said his gut feeling was “it probably suits us to go north”.

“We must decide whether to go to Europe and win trophies or stay south and continue to deal with the logistical issues of overseas travel,” he added.



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Weed and Testis Cancer: An Unholy Duo


Sex, Testicular

Weed and Testis Cancer: An Unholy Duo

I know that it is legal in most states. I also know that
getting “high” on pot is not the same as getting “drunk” on alcohol. These
issues aside, I
still worry a lot
 about the relationship between pot use and the risk
of testicular cancer.

Some recent meta-analysis research adds fuel to the fire. A review
of 25 studies conducted over the last 40 years continues to
suggest a link between long-term cannabis use and higher rates of testicular
cancer. Like tobacco and lung cancer, there appears to be an unholy
relationship between pot use and testicular cancer. And the facts surrounding
pot use and the occurrence of this cancer in the U.S. lend credence to this
concept.

Testis Cancer Trends

Consider the bare facts surrounding testicular cancer:

  • Testis cancer is the most common malignancy among men ages 20 to 40.
  • The age-adjusted rates for testicular cancers in the US have been rising 1% each year over the last several decades.
  • Among the 100 known cancers, testis cancer is one of only 4 that has been increasing as of late.

Grass is Getting Greener

Now, let’s look at the facts surrounding pot use:

  • Pot has been legalized in 45 states since
    1973. And, for some reason, we tend to assume incorrectly that “legalization”
    means “safe”.
  • The potency of THC in marijuana preparations has
    more than doubled over the last two decades.
  • Second to alcohol, marijuana is the most
    commonly used substance among adolescents.
  • Rates of weed use are increasing, with use among
    young adults (ages 18-29 years) doubling from 10% to 21% since 2000,
    while alcohol and tobacco use rates have declined.
  • Young adults (ages 18 to 25) are 3 times
    more likely to be current pot users compared to older adults. Pot use
    is highest among those in their early twenties.

If there is even a hair of truth to the relationship between
testis cancer and weed use, then one of the purest forms of preventative
therapy on this good earth is to pitch the pot, wing the weed, bury the bammy,
heave the hemp…you get the idea.

This article first appeared on Dr.Turek’s blog.

Thanks to Ahmed
Zayan
 for sharing their work on Unsplash.

Author:

Dr. Paul Turek is an internationally known thought leader in men’s reproductive and sexual health care and research. A fellowship trained, board-certified physician by the American Board of Urology (ABU), he has received numerous honors and awards for his work and is an active member in professional associations worldwide. His recent lectures, publications and book titles can be found in his curriculum vitae.





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Anti-Vaxxers Are Forming an Unholy Alliance With Shelter-in-Place Protesters


Sukhina Marina

Protests against social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines in states across the country have become fertile ground for anti-vaccine activists, foreshadowing future showdowns over government-led efforts to help bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic.

Del Bigtree, a notorious anti-vaccination activist before the emergence of COVID-19, attended a reopening rally in Austin last weekend to find out why the protesters were showing up. Bigtree told The Daily Beast that he saw a lot of overlap between anti-vaccine activists who distrust vaccines and the rally-goers, who were complaining that the public health policies put in place by state governments are unconstitutional and draconian relative to the health crisis at hand.

“I think the science is falling apart,” Bigtree said, citing models he called “a disaster.” 

On April 17, Bigtree featured Wendy Darling, founder of anti-stay-at-home-order group “Michigan United for Liberty” and an attendee of one of the Michigan protests, on his online show The High Wire, which usually dedicates programming to questioning health professionals and settled science. Asked by Bigtree whether the demonstrations showed that at least some Michiganders “are not afraid of dying from the coronavirus,” Darling said: “In our group, in particular, we’ve got thousands of people in Michigan United for Liberty and the consensus there is, you know, we are not. We’re more afraid of the government than we are of the virus at this point.” 

Trump Calls Rule-Breaking Coronavirus Protesters ‘Very Responsible People’

Bigtree isn’t the only drawing connections between the anti-vaccine movement—which advocates for the fallacious notion that vaccines cause autism or other ailments—and the movements against the stay-at-home orders. Anti-vaccine activists have pushed a hashtag calling for President Donald Trump to fire the government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci—a message that evolved into a “Fire Fauci” chant at the Texas rally Bigtree attended. Some participants in the reopening rallies have also adopted “I Do Not Consent” as their go-to sign formulation, which is the same language that’s become a popular phrase for anti-vaccination activists. 

“That’s one of their biggest slogans,” said Amy Pisani, the executive director of pro-vaccine group Vaccinate Your Family. 

The predominantly right-wing activists calling for states to reopen businesses amid the pandemic have also criticized vaccines in their online communities. On “Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine,” a Facebook group with more than 350,000 members that has become a hotbed for anti-social distancing protests in the state, thousands of members said they wouldn’t take any future vaccine. Some posters pushed conspiracy theories that the vaccine would be the “mark of the Beast” or a tracking device used by billionaire Bill Gates

A user in “Reopen Missouri,” another Facebook group devoted to rapidly reopening businesses, made a popular post that included a vow to never take any future coronavirus vaccine.  

“I refuse to receive said vaccine to make others feel more safe,” it read. “I won’t set myself—or my children—on fire to keep you warm.”

Facebook Axed Pro-Vaccine Ads, Let Anti-Vaxxer Conspiracies Slip Through

The possibility of anti-vaccine advocates gaining a foothold in the protests against public safety laws could portend even dicier problems for government agencies ahead. Health officials have said that a vaccine for coronavirus is one of, if not the, surest ways to emerge through the crisis and return to a semblance of social normalcy. But that depends on wide-scale cultural acceptance of the vaccination—which optimistically could be 18 months away from production—and the coronavirus pandemic has drawn more online interest to anti-vaccine causes. 

Jackie Schlegal, the founder of well-funded anti-vaccine group Texans for Vaccine Choice, claims that her group has received an “overwhelming influx of support” and a load of traffic from people concerned about coronavirus vaccine exemptions. 

The anti-vaccine language used by the reopening activists marks the latest confluence between anti-vaccine activists and anti-government groups, who have teamed up in the past to fight vaccine mandates, according to Pisani. 

“It’s not new that these libertarians and ultra-anti-government individuals have been working together with anti-vaccine activists in recent years,” she said. 

Much of the rhetoric at the reopening rallies mirrors the language of anti-vaccine activists, according to Professor Jennifer Reich, a University of Colorado Denver sociologist who has studied why parents don’t vaccinate their children. According to Reich’s research, the rise in non-vaccinations among children has come as a result of two trends: pressure on parents to research every detail of the choices available to their children; and the idea that individuals, not public health experts or doctors, are best positioned to handle their own health decisions. 

“We’ve perfectly set the stage for parents not to trust vaccines,” Reich said.  

Now those same trends are coming into focus during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Reich. Just as anti-vaccine parents claim they can best handle the decision to vaccinate their children, anti-social distancing protesters have vowed to judge the risks of walking around in public, not wearing masks, or not taking any vaccine themselves. 

“A lot of their rhetoric is really about individual self management, and that they want to be in control of mitigating their own risk,” Reich said of the rally goers. 

Reich fears that the demands for public health officials to move expeditiously in finding a solution to coronavirus could only feed skepticism of vaccines, as the skeptics will point to shortened clinical trials to cast doubt about its safety or efficacy. Already anti-vaccine activists like Bigtree are questioning the coronavirus vaccine process. 

“It’s going to affirm the worst fears of those who already distrust the vaccine system,” Reich said. 

For Pisani, the head of the pro-vaccine group, the coronavirus pandemic represents a crucial point for the ongoing fight pitting pro-vaccine forces and health experts against anti-vaccine groups. The pandemic could ramp up skepticism about government health advice, giving anti-vaccine activists a broader platform. But at the same time, the general public has never been so interested in vaccines and virology in recent memory, or more desperate for a vaccine. 

“I just can’t understand if they had an elderly family member and there was a vaccine — they wouldn’t want to give the vaccine to that person?” Pisani said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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