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Aussie Teenagers ‘Unmasked’ as Brains Behind Leading Covid Tracking Website

Three teenage boys from Melbourne have revealed themselves as the brains behind one of Australia’s leading online Covid trackers.

The website CovidBaseAU has been up and running since April 2021, providing statistics and tracking of the Coronavirus both within Australia and globally. Its layout is straight-forward and easy to browse, showing collated data and updates on the pandemic. It also provides Australian users with updated information and details on vaccinations, cases, tests, hospitalisations, deaths and a Covid timeline.

Because of its efficient design and daily-updated information, the website quickly gained country-wide recognition as a reliable source of information on Covid. 

Its popularity went through the roof when the three teenagers decided to reveal their identity as the brains behind the online tracker. 15-year old Jack and his friends/teammates Wesley (14) and Darcy (15) decided to reveal their identities via Twitter on the 23rd of September 2021. The tweet shows a photo of the trio, showing off their inoculated shoulders while holding up their vaccination cards to the camera.

The Twitter post reads: 

“BOOM! 12-15s can get the (vaccine)

Today the three of us who run @covidbaseau, Jack, Wesley and Darcy, had our first dose of the Moderna vaccine.

Thought this would be a good time to share who we really are.

Thrilled that we will finally be included in our data!”

The teenage trio kept themselves anonymous for months, waiting for the best time to reveal their identities to the world. And they chose well! Their tweet instantly gained thousands of likes and has been retweeted 2.5 thousand times.

After their timely reveal on social media, the trio was interviewed on ABC TV News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) by fellow number-cruncher, Casey Briggs. Briggs has been a regular on the network, providing data analysis and graphic presentations on the pandemic. 

In the interview, Briggs commented, “…I had no idea who was behind this website, but they have ‘unmasked’ themselves. And it turns out, they’re a gang of youths!”

When asked how they started the website, Jack explained, “Last year, I sort of, just personally tracked the data myself, just for fun. Darcy’s really skilled with coding and I’m really into the news and really interested in the data. So we’ve decided to take what we’ve been doing and create something with it…” 

Jack added, “We spent a lot of time on it to try and make it as comprehensive as possible.”

When asked why he wanted to get involved with the website, Darcy explained, “The government’s released data in all sorts of different places and in different formats. When Jack was collecting all this data, I helped him put it together and display it on a website so it’s accessible for everyone.”

When asked about the people’s reaction on their Twitter post, Wesley smiled and said, “It was really cool. We didn’t expect it to, kind of, blow up that fast. But yeah, the support’s been amazing.”

Since the 27th of August, Australia has approved the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines for children aged 12-15 years.

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Politics Society

Lockdown protests continue in Melbourne

Anti-lockdown protests have sparked in Melbourne this week in the ongoing saga of coronavirus COVID-19 global pandemic crisis. The protests come as a result of building tensions as case numbers in Australia’s second largest city continue to rise and the government has mandated a two week lockdown to try and stop the spread. 

An estimated 2,000 protestors took to Melbourne’s streets for a roughly eight hour long protest. Despite the initial protest being centred around the topic of mandated vaccines for construction workers, far-right and extremist groups seem to have overtaken and hijacked the protests. Police deputy commissioner Ross Guenther said the protests appeared directionless and unorganised, seemingly descending into chaos. He was quick to condemn the protestors: “There were others who were not … they are not there to protest, they are there for a fight, pretend to be protesting,” and urged people to stay home in the following few days. 

In response to the protests police fired pepper balls and rubber pellets into the crowds and arrested over 60 people on Tuesday 21st September 2021. Protestors had broken the lockdown regulations and taken to the streets, blocking a highway and causing damage to property. Three police officers were reported as injured following the clashes. 

The extended lockdown has been a point of ongoing tension in the state of Victoria. Workers’ union leader and state premier Dan Andrews expressed his disappointment regarding the public health issue: “Acts of violence and disruption won’t result in one less case of COVID – in fact it only helps the virus to spread”. 

This sentiment was echoed by other public health officials and comes as Victoria and NSW case numbers continue to reach all time highs at roughly 1,000 new cases per day. The government continues with its hope to vaccinate as many people as possible against the virus.

Social Media Twitter

The future of Twitter

Twitter has released surprising though not unexpected news this week into the internet sphere. The social media giant has been proving more popular than ever before thanks to the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic crisis restrictions seeing more people at home and online around the world. Now, it seems to be looking to the future to see what’s next for its business growth and how to capitalise on renewed user interest. 

From humble beginnings

Originally conceived by a small team of tech entrepreneurs in March 2006, Twitter had launched by July of the same year. The team of creatives behind the initiative: Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams, could never have predicted the success of the social media baby they had created. Within six years the social networking site had gone on to gain more than 100 million users, with more than 340 million tweets a day posted, making it one of the biggest, most popular and influential of the social media platforms. 

The internet’s front page

Famous for its 140 character limit, Twitter became the direct line to many of our favourite celebrities and politicians alike, giving voice for the first time to people who had previously only been heard via more formal channels such as press interviews and PR statements. The masses equally took to the site as a way to vocalise the ups and downs of daily living, and Twitter equally became notorious for the number of troll accounts that would anonymously abuse others and cause trouble in the Twittersphere. 

What’s next?
Jump forward to 2021 and the site has for a long time been looking at how to expand its offerings. Similarly to other ecommerce initiatives on Instagram and Facebook, Twitter is not set to test a shop module, meaning users can browse and buy using in-app services.

Blog Influencers Policy Politics Privacy Society

Britney denied removal of her conservatorship

The hashtag #FreeBritney has been floating around the internet for quite some time. Since 2009 in fact when concerns around her conservatorship were first raised by a fan site of the same name and reported by Julia Jacobs reported for The New York Times. For nearly 13 years, Britney Spears has been under a conservatorship – otherwise known as a guardianship – by her family that has resulted in her being unable to make her own decisions in her life. Although seemingly first a genuine attempt to aid Britney during a period of mental stress in the late noughties, the conservatorship seems to have quickly grown into a way for those close to Britney to exploit and profit from her stardom. 

As the #FreeBritney movement has for a long time claimed Britney’s affairs have been under (too close-) control by her father Jamie Spears. Now in his late eighties, Spears’ father is currently suffering from his own health problems, suffering an episode at the end of last year that has in part prompted Britney to act in an attempt to free herself from his control. As it stands right now, Britney is unable to make many financial, legal, health and social life choices for herself. 

In the most recent court case, where Britney was able to speak publicly for the first time about her conservatorship, she described decades long emotional abuse and even of punishments from her management when she did not want to comply with their wishes. In one heart-wrenching instance she describes wanting another child but being unable to conceive as a result of the IUD contraceptive that she was not allowed to have removed under the conservatorship. 

Britney spoke freely for the first time ever about her conservatorship for over twenty minutes. Yet despite her passionate speech, the judge has denied her rights to have the conservatorship removed. It is not yet known whether Britney will appeal.

Blog Influencers Society

The Alt-lit scene is characterised by an interest in online publishing and publishing in all its forms though usually influenced in some way by internet culture. Alt-lit stands for Alternative Literature, a scene that emerged in New York, United States of America around 2014. Big names on the scene include people like Tao Lin, Sam Pink, Darcy Wilder and more recently self styled instafamous writers like Caroline Calloway. 

While New York might have at one point been the epicentre for the coronavirus pandemic takeover of the USA, it has in more recent months, enjoyed a relaxation and lifting of lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures. New York Time magazine even declared the return of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) on the front cover of its latest issue. 

For those of us unable to be seen dining out in Brooklyn or strolling in Central Park however, Instagram is – as usual – providing us virtual access to the lives of the cool and trendy. For those keen to keep their finger on the pulse when it comes to the re-emergence of the alt-lit scene in NYC, here are our choice of Instagram accounts to follow the revival of Alt-lit 2.0 on : 

  1. Taolincellectuals

Taolincellectuals in the fan account for original alt-lit author Tao Lin. Also noted for being the official Muumuu House marketing and communications account it’s a little hard to tell who is running the show, but plenty of memes come from the account to keep people interested. 

  1. writers_life_tips

Self acclaimed autistic genius and poet, writers life tips is a meme account with an iconic plain or stock photo background and simple text aesthetic. Half social commentary, half biography, the account pokes fun at the alt-lit movement as well as the author. 

  1. unbridled_id

    The account is run by Sierra Armor, who notes herself as being a cyberbully Superstar since 2001.
Blog Politics Society

Post-covid trends for the new normal

The thought of a ‘new normal’ is what has kept many of us going over this past year. With so many parts of life affected by the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 global pandemic crisis, it is not yet fully clear what life will look like as we go back to ‘normal’. For many people, the pandemic meant working or learning from home, and much less travel as a result of lockdown restrictions. Social distancing measures have also changed how we socially interact with one another, with more people expressing hesitancy to touch and many choosing to touch elbows rather than shake hands as a greeting. 

So what will life look like in the post-covid new normal?

The work from home revolution 

Advancements in digital technology have made working from home easier than ever during this pandemic and less people than ever before are keen to get back to the office. While working from home has been shown to increase short term productivity, it is said to be detrimental to long term growth and developments in business. New co-working and scheduling software however has helped to reintroduce the social side of work and makes it easier than ever for employees to stay connected. 

Online learning

The education sector has faced many challenges this pandemic, with much disruption to students’ learning experience no matter what their age. Children have been unable to start school and many students have been unable to take their exams as normal. As a result, educational software and teaching methods have had to develop at a rapid pace. There has also been an increase in demand for online learning opportunities as a consequence of more people being at home and having more free time available. 

Paperless money

As touch became problematic our inclination towards a cashless payment system increased. Now more banks and service providers are offering digital banking and payment opportunities for customers who want to buy without the fear of infection.

Blog Politics Society

Germany to return looted Nigerian bronzes

The government of Nigeria has said it is pleased to be receiving a returned portion of the Benin Bronzes that were said to be looted all the way back in 1897. The ancient artifacts were supposedly taken by British soldiers initially in a raid before being acquired by museum collections across the United States of America and European cultural capitals. 

The artifacts consist mainly of plaques and sculptures numbering in their thousands. The items were plundered from the old Kingdom of Benin in what is now southern Nigeria. The bronzes are not associated with Benin, the modern nation. 

The repatriation of the artifacts has been the sole work of the Benin Dialogue Group for over the last decade. The group is based in Germany but comprises partnerships from multiple European nations. German officials have been working with the Nigerian government on return of the works so they can be permanently displayed in Benin City. The exhibition is hope to be realised within the year. 

In a joint release, Germany and Nigera made the statement: “The participants are in agreement that addressing Germany’s colonial past is an important issue for the whole of society and a core task for cultural policy.” They went on to “reaffirm their willingness in principle to make substantial returns” for the majority of the artifacts – a suggestion they may wish to keep several of the pieces. A more detailed time plan for the return of the artifacts will be released after the summer. 

Nigerian institutions currently only hold 9 of the Benin Bronze artifacts, whilst 38 institutions in the USA and 45 in the UK are recorded as having a piece of the historic collection. The art and cultural world has for a long time been calling for the return of previously looted artifacts as an action of decolonization. 

Blog Society

European Super League hits the ground before it can even get running

In a dramatic twist and turning of events this month, a comedy / drama / tragedy has been playing out across in European network of football clubs. Football fans in Europe and across the world have been looking on with shock, horror and awe as several of the top football clubs sought to come together to make an elite European Super League

The twelve top clubs reportedly spent three years constructing the plans for the league, only to be renamed the ‘Dirty Dozen’ as things went sour in public opinion after the league’s press release. 

In the Press Release on their website, the European Super League lists AC Milan, Arsenal FC, Atlético de Madrid, Chelsea FC, FC Barcelona, FC Internazionale Milano, Juventus FC, Liverpool FC, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid CF and Tottenham Hotspur as its founding members. 

The league proposed a closed competition of 20 clubs, with 15 founders and 5 annual qualifiers. It assured that through a knockout style tournament of home and away games that competition would remain rife and in keeping with the traditional league set up. 

So what went wrong?

It took only 48 hours or so for the European Super League to succumb to (un)popular opinion. Critics of the league voiced their opinion that the structure was unfair and went against the ethics of the game. The closed circuit league, they argued, wouldn’t allow for the possibility of promotion and relegation found in the current Premier and other leagues. 

Fans in the UK, the well known home of football as the chant goes, were outraged at the news and took to the streets to protest. Banners and chanting let organisers know how fans felt at what they called a ‘betrayal’ of football. Moral outrage overcame health and safety fears as protests took place during the COVID-19 ongoing coronavirus global pandemic crisis.

Blog Politics Society

Black Lives Matter protests sparked in Minneapolis over death of Daunte Wright

The Black Lives Matter movement continues in the United States of America this month as protestors clashed with police in Minneapolis another black man was fatally shot. The enraged and upset community took to the streets for multiple nights in a row this April as Daunte Wright, a 20 year old black man was shot at the Brooklyn Centre in the middle of the city. The fatal shooting took place only streets away from where police officer Derek Chauvin is standing trial for the death of George Floyd – a historic moment in early 2020 that is noted for sparking the #BlackLivesMatter protests that formed the Black Spring of last year. 

Police officer Kim Potter initially pulled Daunte Wright over for a traffic violation, though events later escalated as Officer Potter pulled her weapon. The scene was caught on bodycam and Officer Potter clearly exclaims that she shot Daunte Wright: “Holy shit, I just shot him.” Officer Potter allegedly claims she believed she was holding her taser, evidence supported in the video where someone is heard to be shouting “Taser! Taser! Taser!”

Critics have argued that traffic violations such as expired licenses, like the one Duaunte Wright was supposedly pulled over for, should not have been focused on by police at this time of increased tensions within the community. Being only streets away from the trial of George Floyd, those supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement have said demonstrates the intense pressure and scrutiny faced by the black community in Minneapolis. This is not a problem in Minneapolis alone however, and is indicative of the wider struggle with black communities and the police across the USA as racial minorities continue to face systematic oppression from the state. 

The community in Minneapolis was so enraged multiple nights of protest took place in the city, with crowds converging on the Brooklyn Centre. People gathered in defiance of the 7pm curfew imposed due to ongoing coronavirus social distancing restrictions.

Influencers Politics Society

UK’s Prince Phillip will be taken to the grave in a custom made Land Rover hearse

Not to be outdone in death, the British Royal family is as well known for its lavish funerals as lavish weddings. Prince Phillip is the latest British royal to make global news headlines this month with his unsurprising death at the ripe old age of 99. 

While getting old and dying might not be quite the front page news tabloids and the BBC have been making it out to be, one noteworthy part of the whole affair is the customised Land Rover – designed by Prince Phillip himself – that will be taking the now deceased monarch to the grave. 

Following the death of Princess Diana, the palace was criticised for their lack of humanity in the face of a nation’s grief. This time however, end to end BBC broadcasting of coverage on the Duke’s life has received over 110,000 complaints from all over the UK. 

In this respect, the over coverage of the Duke’s life and death seems more like a propaganda move from the royals who may be trying to make themselves more relatable in this time of tragedy for many who have lost one of the 127,000 people to COVID-19 so far. It is likely also the palace’s way of preparing the nation for the imminent demise of the Queen herself who at 94 years old, is almost ready to send herself a centenarian telegram. 

The funeral is set to take place on Saturday 17th April 2021 and will feature an eight minute procession within Windsor Castle. In a strange turn of events it has been revealed by the palace that Prince Phillip will be travelling to his grave in a Land Rover designed by the prince himself. 

Knowing old age was approaching it seems Prince Phillip spent the last 16 years designing and working with Land Rover to manufacture his dream hearse. The hearse takes on the classic Land Rover design at the front, whilst the back looks more like a pick-up truck style, long enough to fit the Prince’s coffin.