Will the COVID vaccine make me test positive for the coronavirus? 5 questions about vaccines and COVID testing answered



from www.shutterstock.com

Meru Sheel, Australian National University; Charlee J Law, Australian National University, and Cyra Patel, Australian National University

COVID-19 vaccination is rolling out across Australia. So health authorities are keen to dispel myths about the vaccines, including any impact on COVID testing.

Do the vaccines give you COVID, or make you test positive for COVID? Does the vaccine affect other tests? Do we still need to get COVID tested if we have symptoms, even after getting the shot? And will we still need COVID testing once more of the population gets vaccinated?

We look at the evidence to answer five common questions about the impact of COVID vaccines on testing.




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Do I need to register for a COVID vaccine? How will I know when it’s my turn? Vaccine rollout questions answered


1. Will the vaccine give me COVID?

The short answer is “no”. That’s because the vaccines approved for use so far in Australia and elsewhere don’t contain live COVID virus.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine contains an artificially generated portion of viral mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid). This carries the specific genetic instructions for your body to make the coronavirus’s “spike protein”, against which your body mounts a protective immune response.

The AstraZeneca vaccine uses a different technology. It packages viral DNA into a viral vector “carrier” based on a chimpanzee adenovirus. When this is delivered into your arm, the DNA prompts your body to produce the spike protein, again stimulating an immune response.

Any vaccine side-effects, such as fever or feeling fatigued, are usually mild and temporary. These are signs the vaccines are working to boost your immune system, rather than signs of COVID itself. These symptoms are also common after routine vaccines.

2. Will the COVID vaccine make me test positive?

No, a COVID vaccine will not affect the results of a diagnostic COVID test.

The current gold-standard diagnostic test is known as nucleic acid PCR testing. This looks for the mRNA (genetic material) of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This is a marker of current infection.

This is the test the vast majority of people have when they line up at a drive-through testing clinic, or attend a COVID clinic at their local hospital.

Yes, the Pfizer vaccine contains mRNA. But the mRNA it uses is only a small part of the entire viral RNA. It also cannot make copies of itself, which would be needed for it to be in sufficient quantity to be detected. So it cannot be detected by a PCR test.

The AstraZeneca vaccine also only contains part of the DNA but is inserted in an adenovirus carrier that cannot replicate so cannot give you infection or a positive PCR test.




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3. How about antibody testing?

While PCR testing is used to look for current infection, antibody testing — also known as serology testing — picks up past infections.

Laboratories look to see if your immune system has raised antibodies against the coronavirus, a sign your body has been exposed to it. As it takes time for antibodies to develop, testing positive with an antibody test may indicate you were infected weeks or months ago.

But your body also produces antibodies as a response to vaccination. That’s the way it can recognise SARS-CoV-2, the next time it meets it, to protect you from severe COVID.

So as COVID vaccines are rolled out, and people develop a vaccine-induced antibody response, it may become difficult to differentiate between someone who has had COVID in the past and someone who was vaccinated a month ago. But this will depend on the serology test used.




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The good news is that antibody testing is not nearly as common as PCR testing. And it’s only ordered under limited and rare circumstances.

For instance, when someone tests positive with PCR, but they are a false positive due to the characteristics of the test, or have fragments of virus lingering in the respiratory tract from an old infection, public health experts might request an antibody test to see whether that person was infected in the past. They might also order an antibody test during contact tracing of cases with an unknown source of infection.




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4. If I get vaccinated, do I still need a COVID test if I have symptoms?

Yes, we will continue to test for COVID as long as the virus is circulating anywhere in the world.

Even though the COVID vaccines are looking promising in preventing people from getting seriously sick or dying, they won’t provide 100% protection.

Real-world data suggests some vaccinated people can still catch the virus, but they usually only get mild disease. We are unsure whether vaccinated people will be able to potentially pass it to others, even if they don’t have any symptoms. So it’s important people continue to get tested.

COVID-19 testing sign
It’s important people still get tested if they have symptoms, even after having the vaccine.
Kristen Sadler/www.shutterstock.com

Furthermore, not everyone will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. For instance, in Australia, current guidelines exclude people under 16 years of age, and those who are allergic to ingredients in the vaccine. And although pregnant women are not ruled out from receiving the vaccine, it is not routinely recommended. This means a proportion of the population will remain susceptible to catching the virus.

We also are unsure about how effective vaccines will be against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants. So we will continue to test to ensure people are not infected with these strains.




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We know testing, detecting new cases early and contact tracing are the core components of the public health response to COVID, and will continue to be a priority from a public health perspective.

Minimum numbers of daily COVID tests are also needed so we can be confident the virus is not circulating in the community. As an example, New South Wales aims for 8,000 or more tests a day to maintain this peace of mind.

Continued vigilance and high rates of testing for COVID will also be important as we enter the flu season. That’s because the only way to differentiate between COVID and influenza (or any other respiratory infection) is via testing.

5. Will testing for COVID stop as time goes on?

It is unlikely our approach to COVID testing will change in the immediate future. However, as COVID vaccines are rolled out and since COVID is likely to become endemic and stay with us for a long time, the acute response phase to the pandemic will end.

So COVID testing may become part of managing other infectious diseases and part of how we respond to other ongoing health priorities.




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The Conversation


Meru Sheel, Epidemiologist | Senior Research Fellow, Australian National University; Charlee J Law, Epidemiologist | Research Associate, Australian National University, and Cyra Patel, PhD candidate, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Do I need to register for a COVID vaccine? How will I know when it’s my turn? Vaccine rollout questions answered


Natasha Yates, Bond University

Australia is now more than a week into rolling out the Pfizer vaccine, while AstraZeneca shots are due to start from next week. But many of us may still have questions about when and where we’ll get the vaccine.

Overseas, including in the United States and the United Kingdom, many people have been tricked into “signing up” and even paying for vaccines, then discovering they’ve been scammed.

Experts have warned Australians may start to be targeted now too, so it’s essential we are clear on how this process will (and won’t) play out.

Google trends data suggest Australians have been looking for answers to a few different questions.

Do I need to register for a COVID vaccine?

No. If you’re eligible for a COVID vaccine right now, you will know already. Your workplace (or residence, if you are living in aged or disability care) will have given you the option of having it, although you may still be waiting for your turn to actually get jabbed.

The vaccine currently being rolled out (Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine) is both expensive and tricky to administer. That’s why workplaces are being careful to give it only to those in the highest risk category (1A), and not to waste the shots by allocating supplies to people who may be eligible but don’t want them.

Infographic on COVID vaccine rollout

The Conversation, CC BY

So everyone who is eligible should have been offered a vaccine already — and given the chance to decline it — to minimise any waste.

It’s possible at some point the rest of us will be able to register online, so we can be notified when our turn arrives. But the details around any system like this are not available yet.

Be very cautious of anyone texting, emailing or offering you the chance to register for the vaccine or to skip the queue. It could be a scammer wanting your personal details, or your money.

How will I know when it’s my turn to get the vaccine, and how will I be contacted?

A quick and easy way of checking if you’re eligible right now, or when you will be, is to go to this federal government eligibility checker. Even if you know you’re not eligible at the moment, you can use this tool to find out what category you’re in (1B, 2A, etc). Then you can watch out for information specifically relating to your category when it opens up.

At this stage, we haven’t been told exactly how we will be contacted when it’s our turn to receive a vaccine, or if we will be contacted at all. But we do know the government is planning to run large public health education campaigns with clear instructions as the rollout continues.




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Where will I go to get the vaccination?

Currently vaccinations are being given through workplaces (mainly hospitals) and in aged-care homes.

But once vaccines are available for more of us, the plan is to offer them through a range of venues. For example, general practices across the country are putting in huge amounts of time and effort to ensure they’re appropriately set up to deliver COVID vaccines, and can therefore be approved by the department of health as providers.

This means hopefully a number of people will be able to have their COVID-19 vaccine administered by their usual GP, or at least a GP in their local area. Other possible locations include community pharmacies and GP-led respiratory clinics, but these services are still in the planning phases too.

You’ll almost certainly need to make an appointment, regardless of where you’re going to get the jab.

And it’s important you receive two doses of your COVID-19 vaccine at least three weeks apart for the Pfizer vaccine, and at least four but ideally 12 weeks apart for the AstraZeneca vaccine. So on the day you have your first one you may be asked to make an appointment for your follow-up dose.




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While you wait…

While most of us still haven’t been told when or where we will receive the COVID-19 vaccine, hopefully this helps answer some questions.

In short, if you are eligible right now, you will know it. If someone is trying to get you to “register” for the vaccine, they are probably a scammer.

Keep your eyes open for government-produced information about your personal category. Hopefully many Australians will be able to be vaccinated by their local GP or somewhere else just as convenient for them.

While we wait for our turn, there are some things we can do to get ready. For example, we can make sure our details are up to date with Medicare.

For people with chronic health conditions, it may be wise to visit your usual GP to discuss your personal needs and questions around the vaccine, rather than trying to do this once it’s your turn to get vaccinated.




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The Conversation


Natasha Yates, Assistant Professor, General Practice, Bond University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

7 questions answered on how to socialise safely as coronavirus restrictions ease


Hassan Vally, La Trobe University

You can almost hear the collective sigh of relief as coronavirus restrictions are eased across Australia.

But as we emerge from our bunkers and dust off our social skills, we must think about how to navigate this transition safely.




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The winding back of restrictions does not mean the pandemic is over, although it is a recognition of how well we have done to control the spread of COVID-19 in Australia. There is still a long way to go, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to limit the chances of the coronavirus spreading.

So what should a social gathering look like now we’re allowed to get together? Here are answers to some common questions.

How big should my gathering be?

At the time of writing, you can have five visitors in your home and gatherings of up to ten outdoors in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. In Tasmania you can only have two visitors to your home; in the ACT, South Australia and the Northern Territory you can have ten, while in Western Australia you can have 20.

Whatever the restrictions in your state or territory, it’s important not to crowd too close together. You need to use common sense in deciding how many people to invite.

Do we still need to socially distance and wash hands regularly?


Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

We should carry on doing the things that have so far proved successful in curbing the coronavirus.

This includes staying at least 1.5 metres from other people, and being vigilant about hand hygiene.

Make sure you have plenty of hand sanitiser available if you are hosting or attending a social gathering, so you can disinfect your hands regularly without having to go to the bathroom repeatedly.




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How should we greet each other?


Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

The same rules about physical contact still apply, so we should not be hugging for now. We could adopt some of the new ways of greeting, such as the elbow bump or the foot shake. Or just stick to saying hello for the moment.




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Should I bring my own cutlery to a dinner party?

Assuming you trust the general hygiene standards of your friends (which I sincerely hope you do), this is not necessary. Cutlery should be washed properly with detergent in hot water and handled only with freshly washed hands.

Cutlery is no different to any other food surface such as crockery, glassware or chopping boards – just make sure it’s as clean as possible.

Can we share food?


Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Although there is no evidence coronavirus is spread through food, there is still a risk of cross-contamination while eating food from a shared plate. So this is probably not a sensible thing to do right now.

While it might feel less sociable, avoiding shared grazing plates is a simple tactic to limit the risk of virus transmission. It might even stop your friend scoffing all the dip.

Similarly, avoid the temptation to clink glasses with your friends. It’s only a small risk but we should take every opportunity to reduce the virus’s chances.

Should I wear a mask?

A mask is not essential for social gatherings, assuming you maintain a safe distance and wash your hands regularly. Having said that, a mask can give people some extra reassurance so they can relax a bit more.

That’s assuming it is worn (and taken off) correctly, and that people understand a mask does not guarantee protection from infection. There is no harm in wearing one, but remember to be extra friendly as your friends can’t see your smile!




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I don’t feel 100% – should I take a raincheck?

It is important to factor in your personal health and risk factors in determining how you navigate your newly reinstated freedoms. For example, a 75-year-old with a pre-existing health condition, such as a heart condition or asthma, should still be very careful about limiting their contact with others, as the implications of getting sick are very serious.

You should also consider your responsibility to other people. A 25-year-old who feels slightly unwell should err on the side of caution and not socialise, to protect others.

Despite the lockdown lifting, we still need to take responsibility for our own health and also be considerate about the health of others. That way we can all start to enjoy one of the most rewarding aspects of humanity: being sociable.The Conversation

Hassan Vally, Associate Professor, La Trobe University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

View from The Hill: Senate decides Pyne and Bishop have a few more parliamentary questions to answer


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Martin Parkinson, secretary of the Prime Minister’s department, has cleared Christopher Pyne and Julie Bishop of breaching the government’s code of ministerial standards with their post-politics jobs. But it’s doubtful the average voter would take such a literal or generous view of their conduct.

Scott Morrison had flicked to Parkinson the row over the part-time positions the two high flyers have taken that clearly overlap their previous portfolios, when the rules provide for a longer separation period.

Pyne, former defence minister, is advising EY, which operates in the defence area. Bishop, former foreign minister, is joining the board of Palladium, a global group working in aid and development.

The code says:

Ministers are required to undertake that, for an eighteen month period after ceasing to be a Minister, they will not lobby, advocate or have business meetings with members of the government, parliament, public service or defence force on any matters on which they have had official dealings as Minister in their last eighteen months in office.

Ministers are also required to undertake that, on leaving office, they will not take personal advantage of information to which they have had access as a Minister, where that information is not generally available to the public.

The government on Monday was quick to gag an embarrassing opposition move in the lower House calling for Parkinson to probe further into the circumstances of Bishop, who told him she didn’t have any contact with Palladium while foreign minister. A video had been posted by the company, labelled “Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, commends Shared Value and Palladium’s Business Partnership Platform”. (Government sources said later that the video – in which Bishop did not use Palladium’s name – was a congratulatory one about a Foreign Affairs initiative.)

In the Senate, the government lacked the numbers to prevent the conduct of Pyne and Bishop being referred to a committee. The motion from Centre Alliance’s Rex Patrick won support from Labor, Greens and non-Greens crossbenchers, passing 35 to 29. The committee has three opposition members, two government senators and a One Nation representative. Pyne and Bishop will be invited to appear and could be required to do so.

The greyest area of the post-ministerial employment provision is the stipulation not to take advantage of private information acquired as a minister.

Parkinson says in his report to Morrison: “a distinction should be drawn between experience gained through being a minister and specific knowledge they acquire through performing the role. It is the latter which is pertinent to the Standards”.




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In practice, however, this can fade into a distinction without a difference. As Parkinson also says: “It is not reasonable to think that former Ministers can or will ‘forget’ all information or knowledge gained by them in the course of their ministerial roles”.

Pyne initially said he would be “providing strategic advice to EY, as the firm looks to expand its footprint in the Defence Industry”. EY initially talked up his role but then quickly qualified it in the face of the controversy.

Parkinson spoke to both Pyne (who had already issued a long public written explanation) and Bishop.

In Parkinson’s account, Pyne seems to have done a lot of talking with EY about what he can’t do. EY is paying, of course, for what he can do.

Parkinson says he considers Pyne “has put in place mechanisms to ensure that, whilst his engagement with EY will appropriately draw on his 26 year experience as a parliamentarian, he will not impart direct or specific knowledge known to him only by virtue of his ministerial position”.

Bishop, who will have been out of the ministry for a year next month, has said little publicly about her non-executive directorship. She told Parkinson she had yet to attend a board meeting and that “Palladium does not expect her to engage on any Australian based projects”.

Patrick suggested the terms of reference given to Parkinson were limited – designed to fix a “political problem”.




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This is not new ground. Former trade minister Andrew Robb took up employment (annual remuneration of $880,000) with the Chinese Landbridge Group soon after he was trade minister. He has strongly rejected criticism of his action (and since left the group).

Two former ministers with responsibility for resources, the Liberals’ Ian Macfarlane and Labor’s Martin Ferguson quickly accepted positions with the sector. Stephen Conroy, a former communications minister overseeing online gambling laws, came under fire on becoming a lobbyist for the gambling industry – he points out this was three years after he was a minister.

Going back further (when the ministerial code of conduct did not include a post-separation provision) Peter Reith segued from the defence portfolio into advising defence contractor Tenix.

The Senate inquiry, reporting by September 10, will look at “action taken by the Prime Minister and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to ensure full compliance by former Ministers” with the relevant section of the ministerial standards.

At the end of his letter to Morrison, Parkinson highlights the impotence of a PM once members of his team are out in the wide world.

“While there are certain actions available to you when considering the conduct of a current serving Minister, and a possible breach of the Standards, there are no specific actions that can be taken by you in relation to former Ministers once they have left the Parliament”.

Either some way should be found to make the code enforceable or, if that is too hard, let’s skip the hypocrisy and admit it is no more than an exhortation to departees to act properly – complying with not just its letter but its spirit.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Morrison and Shorten reveal their positions on key foreign policy questions


File 20181106 74778 s3a18w.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
While their foreign policy approaches may seem very similar, there were some significant differences.
AAP/Lukas Coch

Tony Walker, La Trobe University

It might be tempting to characterise back-to-back foreign policy speeches delivered by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten as the work of Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

In other words, policy prescriptions advanced by the two on challenges facing Australia in one of the most difficult foreign policy environments since the end of the Vietnam War may seem very similar.

But there are differences. These are significant and in a political sense are to be welcomed, because it is important that debate be had on how to manage these challenges.




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What should be given ample scope is the question of Australia’s positioning vis-à-vis its cornerstone security ally, the United States, and its principal trading partner, China.

Engagement in that debate should be separated from the left-right shibboleths of whether those engaged are pro- or anti-American. Tempting though it might be for one side of politics to dust off the old wedge issue of fealty to the alliance, we need to move beyond that sterile discussion.

The foreign policy speeches delivered by Shorten and Morrison just days apart both addressed the issue of the triangular relationship between Canberra, Washington and Beijing. Both trod carefully.

In Morrison’s case, he did not seek to provide a new template for such a three-cornered relationship. Rather, he emphasised the enduring importance of the alliance and the desirability of the US remaining engaged in the Indo-Pacific.

The alliance with the United States is a choice we make about how best to pursue our security interests.

And US economic engagement is as essential to regional stability and prosperity as its security capabilities and network of alliances … A strong America – centrally engaged in the affairs of our region – is critical to Australia’s national interests.

Morrison did, however, acknowledge risks for Australia when he said it was “important that US-China relations do not become defined by confrontation”.

The period ahead will, at times, be testing but I am confident of our ability to navigate it. And once again our values and beliefs will guide us.

Morrison’s speech was heavy on “values” as a guide to Australian policy under his administration. In this regard, he might have been echoing earlier statements by Labor’s foreign policy spokeswoman, Penny Wong, who has pursued a “values” theme in her foreign policy speeches over the past several years.

Morrison and Shorten revealed different approaches to the US-Australia alliance.
AAP/EPA/David Maxwell

Shorten, on the other hand, provided more grist beyond a “values” statement about Australian priorities under a Labor administration. In the process, he edged cautiously towards a posture of greater independence from an America under Donald Trump and future presidents bound by an “America first” mindset.

Australia’s interests will obviously be different from those of the United State in some areas; our national focus is different, our relationships with our close neighbours are different, our economies have different structures.

And indeed differences in perspective and opinion are one of the many valuable qualities we bring to our alliance with the United States.

The Labor Party opposed the second Iraq war – and in view of the consequences, we were more responsible allies for doing so…

We can – and will – express any differences within the enduring framework of our close relationship.

Many Australians, including a plethora of Labor supporters, will be hoping a transactional and opportunistic Shorten lives up to this declaration.

His reference to Labor’s opposition to the Iraq war oversimplifies the party’s position, in fact.

Commendably, then leader Simon Crean decreed Labor would not support Australia’s involvement without a United Nations-sanctioned process. But there were those in the party, including then foreign policy spokesman Kevin Rudd and former leader Kim Beazley, who were squeamish about this position.

Shorten himself was not yet in parliament.

The Iraq experience, in which Crean courageously asserted an independent position on the rush to war in Iraq, should be regarded by its latter-day leaders as a template for relations with Washington.

In some respects, it proved to be Crean’s finest hour. The Iraq invasion contributed to the destabilisation of the entire Middle East. It has involved expenditures of trillions of dollars, and counting, by the US and its allies.

Among various negative consequences of the march of folly in Iraq is the emboldening of Iran and its increased ability to assert itself more widely in its region. This is a story that has far from played itself out.

Both Morrison and Shorten dwelled, as might be expected, on relations with China. Shorten was both bolder and more nuanced.

The next Labor government will not deal with China purely through the prism of worst-case assumptions about its long-term ambitions.

Pre-emptively framing China as a strategic threat isn’t a sufficient response to its role and increasing influence in our region…

We will deal with China on the basis of the actions it takes – and in our own national interests.

Shorten was both bolder and more nuanced in discussing Australia’s relationship with China.
AAP/EPA/Thomas Peter/Pool

Morrison was more matter-of-fact. This no doubt reflects to a degree that he is feeling his way in his early days as prime minister.

Australia has also a vitally important relationship with China … We are committed to deepening our comprehensive strategic partnership with China.

Of course, China is not alone in being a force of change in our world.

But China is a country that is most changing the balance of power, sometimes in ways that challenge important US interests.

Inevitably, in the period ahead, we will be navigating a higher degree of US-China strategic competition.

What can be said about the Shorten and Morrison world views is that the former’s thinking has developed further than the latter’s, as might be expected given that the Labor leader has been in the job for five years, and Morrison just a few months.

However, it is also possible to detect doctrinal differences that point to a shift in Australian foreign policy under a Shorten-led government to one where Australia seeks to enlarge its room for manoeuvre in a region undergoing wrenching change.

Inevitably, this is leading to a change in tone. Whether this also results in a repositioning of Australian policy remains to be seen.




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In Morrison’s case, it is less likely a Coalition would seek to put much distance between itself and Washington.

Where Morrison and Shorten converge is in their approaches to Australia’s engagement in the southwest Pacific in response to Beijing’s overtures to Pacific island states.

Both have pledged to step up Australia’s involvement. In his speech, Morrison noted Australia would build a naval base on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

Given that Australia has long been the metropolitan power in the southwest Pacific, it could be said that pledges of engagement by both sides are belated.

But it might be also be observed that it’s better late than never.The Conversation

Tony Walker, Adjunct Professor, School of Communications, La Trobe University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

In the outrage over the Trump-Putin meeting, important questions were overlooked



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The outrage over Trump’s comments at the joint press conference meant an opportunity for meaningful debate about policy was lost.
AAP/EPA/Anatoly Maltsev

Filip Slaveski, Deakin University

In a now famous Fox News interview with Donald Trump in February 2017, Bill O’Reilly asked the new US president if he respected his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The following discussion ensued:

Trump: Well, I respect a lot of people but that doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with him.

O’Reilly: But he’s a killer though, Putin’s a killer.

Trump: There are a lot of killers, we’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think — our country’s so innocent?

Not a few viewers in countries on the wrong end of US foreign policy may have had to stop and catch their breath at Trump’s final sentence. A common thread of so many of their experiences of US foreign policy is not only the bombing from above. Many share a deep repugnance toward what they see as a well-manicured facade of American moral superiority, which helps to frame, water down or justify the violence and humiliations to which they are regularly subjected.




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Just for that breathless moment, it seemed this sentence of moral relativism tore a hole in this façade and threatened the moral protection it provides to members of the American establishment.

It is these elected politicians from both major parties, military, state department and security officials, spies, advisers and lobbyists who have reacted most vociferously to Trump’s moral relativism in international affairs. This was perhaps most evident in his accommodating attitude to Putin in general, and especially in Helsinki last month.

In the blanket and largely uncritical Western news coverage of the establishment’s expressions of outrage, commentaries and interviews in response to the July meeting, Trump was depicted as a traitor to the US, Putin’s puppet and now even a greater threat to US national and, indeed, international security.

They may or may not be correct on some or all counts. But it is worth examining exactly what or whom Trump was betraying in Helsinki. So what did Trump do? He accepted uncritically (then later awkwardly back-tracked) Putin’s denial of election meddling and adopted much of his critique of US foreign policy over the last couple of decades.

As far as we know, Trump did not even interrogate Putin over his deadly meddling in Ukraine. He may not be particularly interested. In the lead-up to Helsinki, Trump trash-talked old US allies (including NATO).

Taken together, this conduct exacerbated the establishment fear that Trump was threatening to dismantle well-established Western political structures geared toward containing Russian influence carried over from the Cold War. These structures have been essential to cementing a broader post-Cold War US unipolarity. This has given the US political establishment a free hand to pursue its foreign policies without much restraint but with terrible consequences for those affected in, for example, the Middle East.

I doubt Trump is pursuing a grand strategy to unravel these structures, especially when his rhetoric displays a penchant, even a fetish, for the US unipolarity these strategies help foster.

Furthermore, his rhetoric has not really translated into significant foreign policy changes so far. Much of it is meaningless. But there is whole body of scholarship and commentary that would encourage Trump in any dismantling efforts, as it argues that the carrying over of Cold War structures of Soviet (Russian) containment such as NATO after 1991 have stood in the way of the development of more peaceable relations between Russia and the West. Indeed, structures like NATO fuel Russian anxieties and aggression, which NATO was founded to combat.

More traditional scholarship disputes these “revisionist” ideas, citing Russia’s aggression as evidence of the indispensability of containment to international security.

Scholars on both sides can find evidence to support their arguments in Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Ukraine. But these revisionist ideas, or even the debate with more traditional ones, were hardly mentioned in the blanket media outrage over Helsinki. Critically, then, an examination of the object of Trump’s supposed “treachery” was also lacking when it was most needed.




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The focus on outrage may just be the reality of covering an outrageous president in politically sensitive times. In any case, an issue remains for us in Australia to re-examine our own approach to Russia.

This could mean advocating a “new” revisionist or “new” traditional approach toward Russia in response to its conduct, especially in Ukraine. But it would also mean at least trying to untangle the latter from the broader implications of supporting American unipolarity and, hopefully, avoiding its consequences.

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The Conversation

This larger project beyond Russia is worth pursuing, if not for the sake of those who suffer its consequences around the globe, then at least for our own. Mass population dislocations, food shortages, terrorism and economic disruption threaten more than ever to reverberate all the way from those far-flung borders straight to our doorstep.

Filip Slaveski, Research Fellow, Alfred Deakin Research Institute, Deakin University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

ADHD: Wrong Diagnosis?


Finally, some questions are being raised about ADHD, which I think is long overdue. The link below is to an article that suggests something different.

For more visit:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/opinion/sunday/diagnosing-the-wrong-deficit.html

Article: Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Authenticity Questioned


After all of the debate concerning the so-called ‘Gospel of Jesus’ Wife,’ even the discoverer of the fragment now questions its authenticity.

For more visit the link below:
http://global.christianpost.com/news/gospel-of-jesus-wife-historian-admits-to-having-doubts-about-authenticity-82229/

USA: Barack Obama No Christian


The following article reports on the personal religion of Barack Obama. What is clear from the interview is that the answers given to questions that were asked of President Obama, is that Barack Obama is not a Christian as far as the Bible definition of a Christian goes. He may be regarded as a ‘Christian’ in some sort of typical western religious manner, but as far as true Christianity goes, he is not.

http://www.christiantelegraph.com/issue15679.html

Pastor, Church Official Shot Dead in Nigeria


Muslim militants of Boko Haram blamed for killings in Borno state.

JOS, Nigeria, June 10 (CDN) — Muslim extremists from the Boko Haram sect on Tuesday (June 7) shot and killed a Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) pastor and his church secretary in Maiduguri, in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno state.

The Rev. David Usman, 45, and church secretary Hamman Andrew were the latest casualties in an upsurge of Islamic militancy that has engulfed northern Nigeria this year, resulting in the destruction of church buildings and the killing and maiming of Christians.

The Rev. Titus Dama Pona, pastor with the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Maiduguri, told Compass that Pastor Usman was shot and killed by the members of the Boko Haram near an area of Maiduguri called the Railway Quarters, where the slain pastor’s church is located.

Pona said Christians in Maiduguri have become full of dread over the violence of Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) on northern Nigeria.

“Christians have become the targets of these Muslim militants – we no longer feel free moving around the city, and most churches no longer carry out worship service for fear of becoming targets of these unprovoked attacks,” Pona said.

Officials at COCIN’s national headquarters in Jos, Plateau state, confirmed the killing of Pastor Usman. The Rev. Logan Gongchi of a COCIN congregation in Kerang, Jos, told Compass that area Christians were shocked at the news.

Gongchi said he attended Gindiri Theological College with Pastor Usman beginning in August 2003, and that both of them were ordained into pastoral ministry on Nov. 27, 2009.

“We knew him to be very gentle, an introvert, who was always silent in the class and only spoke while answering questions from our teachers,” Gongchi said. “He had a simple lifestyle and was easygoing with other students. He was very accommodating and ready at all times to withstand life’s pressures – this is in addition to being very jovial.”

Gongchi described Usman as “a pastor to the core because of his humility. I remember he once told me that he was not used to working with peasant farmers’ working tools, like the hoe. But with time he adapted to the reality of working with these tools on the farm in the school.”

Pastor Usman was excellent at counseling Christians and others while they were at the COCIN theological college, Gongchi said, adding that the pastor greatly encouraged him when he was suffering a long illness from 2005 to 2007.

“His encouraging words kept my faith alive, and the Lord saw me overcoming my ill health,” he said. “So when I heard the news about his murder, I cried.”

 

Motives

The late pastor had once complained about the activities of Boko Haram, saying that unless the Nigerian government faced up to the challenge of its attacks, the extremist group would consume the lives of innocent persons, according to Gongchi.

“Pastor Usman once commented on the activities of the Boko Haram, which he said has undermined the church not only in Maiduguri, but in Borno state,” Gongchi said. “At the time, he urged us to pray for them, as they did not know how the problem will end.”

Gongchi advised the Nigerian government to find a lasting solution to Boko Haram’s violence, which has also claimed the lives of moderate Muslim leaders and police.

The Railway Quarters area in Maiduguri housed the seat of Boko Haram until 2009, when Nigerian security agencies and the military demolished its headquarters and captured and killed the sect’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf, and some of his followers.

The killing of Pastor Usman marked the second attack on his church premises by the Muslim militants. The first attack came on July 29, 2009, when Boko Haram militants burned the church building and killed some members of his congregation.

On Monday (June 6), the militants had bombed the St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, along with other areas in Maiduguri, killing three people. In all, 14 people were killed in three explosions at the church and police stations, and authorities have arrested 14 people.

The Boko Haram name is interpreted figuratively as “against Western education,” but some say it can also refer to the forbidding of the Judeo-Christian faith. They say the word “Boko” is a corruption in Hausa language for the English word “Book,” referring to the Islamic scripture’s description of Jews and Christians as “people of the Book,” while “Haram” is a Hausa word derived from Arabic meaning, “forbidding.”

Boko Haram leaders have openly declared that they want to establish an Islamic theocratic state in Nigeria, and they reject democratic institutions, which they associate with Christianity. Their bombings and suspected involvement in April’s post-election violence in Nigeria were aimed at stifling democracy, which they see as a system of government built on the foundation of Christian scripture.

Christians as well as Muslims suffered many casualties after supporters of Muslim presidential candidate Muhammudu Buhari lost the April 16 federal election to Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian. Primarily Muslim rioters claimed vote fraud, although international observers praised the polls as the fairest since 1999.

Nigeria’s population of more than 158.2 million is almost evenly divided between Christians, who make up 51.3 percent of the population and live mainly in the south, and Muslims, who account for 45 percent of the population and live mainly in the north. The percentages may be less, however, as those practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World.

Report From Compass Direct News
http://www.compassdirect.org/