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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.

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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. 

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Blog Influencers Society

Gwyneth Paltrow criticised for Goop’s alternative COVID-19 remedies

Gwenyth Paltrow has come under fire recently for the alternative COVID-19 remedy treatments offered by her company Goop. Goop is the company Paltrow founded in 2008 that cites itself as a modern wellness and lifestyle brand. The company has caused controversy previously with wackier items such as its infamous vagina scented candle, and has most recently been the subject of criticism for its alternative covid treatments labelled as completely ineffective by experts. 

Paltrow counterclaims the effectiveness of the treatments, drawing from her own experience of having the virus very early on in the pandemic last year in Spring 2020. In a blog post on the Goop website, Paltrow explains: “A little background: I had COVID-19 early on, and it left me with some long-tail fatigue and brain fog.” She goes on to describe how she treated these symptoms of what has been termed ‘long-covid’ with fasting until 11am everyday combined with a plant based and keto diet. She also touts supplements available for purchase via the website for a “healthy microbiome” to keep the gut well. 

While Paltrow calls it a long term body detox, experts have called the method completely useless and unscientific in its approach to combating the long term symptoms of COVID-19. Dr. Michael Saag from the University of Alabama at Birmingham is an infectious disease expert. He told the online media platform Live Science: “I know of no scientific rationale for this approach and know of no data from clinical studies demonstrating the efficacy of these interventions”. 

The COVID-19 coronavirus global pandemic continues across the world with Europe fearing a dreaded and imminent third wave of the virus. Elsewhere, vaccination rollouts have been increased in Australia where concerns are that the virus will spread rapidly from Papua New Guinea where there has been a sharp increase in cases recently.

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Society Travel

Tokyo Olympics bans spectators from overseas

The Tokyo Olympics has already been subject to numerous setbacks due to the COVID-19 coronavirus global pandemic. After initially being cancelled in 2020, there were many fears the games would once again be cancelled in 2021 and may be postponed indefinitely. For those sports enthusiasts whose careers can be made or broken by the games, as well as the thousands of audience members who enjoy watching on screen and in person, the future of the games has been unclear. 

Government officials in Japan have for a long time however declared that the games would not be fully cancelled, but had been strategizing as much as they could how to make the games safe during the coronavirus pandemic. While social distancing measures amongst the audience will aim to help reduce the risk of transmission during the games, the predicament of how and if it was morally ethical to fly sportspeople and audience members internationally during this time of global crises remained. 

The problem has finally however now seen some solutions offered. Japanese officials for the games released a statement last week that decided overseas spectators would not be invited to the games this year as a COVID-19 restriction to prevent further outbreaks of the disease in Japan, and the potential for new mutant strains to arrive in the country or manifest. 

Athletes from around the world will still travel to Japan to take place in the games, but they will be subject to strict testing and lockdown measures before, during and after the event. This is the government’s best strategy for holding the games whilst keeping as many people safe as possible from the virus. The same rules and restrictions will also be applied for the following Paralympic games

The Olympics is set to be held from Friday 23rd July to Sunday 8th August 2021, with the Paralympics held shortly after from Tuesday 24th August to Sunday 5th September 2021. 

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Blog Privacy Society

The birth of cryptocurrency Zcash

Cryptocurrencies have been the subject of great mystery since the first creation of the original digital currency Bitcoin back in 2009. As the legend of Bitcoin goes, the creator Satoshi Nakamoto has still yet to have their identity revealed. The mystery of Bitcoin however stops there, as the simplicity and public openness of its blockchain technology is actually one of the selling and security points in Bitcoin’s favour. 

There is a new cryptocurrency however even more steeped in mystery than its original. Zcash is not a new digital coin, but with renewed interest in online currencies after Bitcoing and fellow coin Ether reached all time highs this year, RadioLab podcast series revisited the birth of Zcash. 

Morgan Peck is the RadioLab journalist who was present at the birth of Zcash, there to witness the myriad and labyrinth-like set up the small team had created to produce the coin. Layers of security were created by the team which involved simple hacks, like moving computers away from the wall to avoid microphones hearing from the other room, to complicated chain series where multiple computers were involved in producing a key only to then be destroyed by their user after completion. 

The drama however occurred when the reporter’s phone began to produce a feedback loop roughly halfway through the ceremony that placed fears into the group they had been hacked. With the multiple security procedures in place however, they decided it was safe enough to continue the procedure and as a result the Zcash coin was born. 

The secret ceremony was constructed with multiple cameras recording the events, with then additional cameras filming the first cameras so as to ensure they had not been tampered with. The extreme measures were put in place to inspire trust in the birth of the currency which positions itself as the full private for users – the opposite to Bitcoin.The birth of cryptocurrency Zcash

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Companies Influencers Politics Society Twitter

Twitter stands up to world leaders with account bans

Twitter has been a leader in the social media forefront since its conception back in 2015. The platform finally launched publicly on March 26th 2006 and has been a long-standing big name amongst the online social media giants since. After a controversial banning of the then U.S. President Donald Trump back in early 2021, it has made global headlines again with its banning of an account linked to the Iranian president Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. 

The Associated Press was the first to report the closing of an account named @khamenei_site, which had been linked to the Supreme Leader of Iran’s personal website. The account, written in Farsi, was claimed to have violated the hate speech regulations of the platforms when it posted an image of Trump playing golf. While the image may at first seem harmless, the connected caption written in Farsi translated as a threatening ‘Revenge is certain’. 

The account was linked without a doubt to the Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei, when the same image then appeared on his website last month. The picture was accompanied again with a quote from the Supreme Leader Khamenei: ‘Soleimani’s murderers and those who ordered his murder must face revenge. … Both the murderers and those who ordered it should know that revenge may come at any time.’

The account ban comes after Twitter made sensational world news previously with their banning of Donald Trump from the platform – whilst he was still president of the United States of America. A statement about the suspension, which was released via the Twitter blog on Friday 8th January 2021, cited a ‘risk of further incitement of violence’ as the cause for concern driving the shutdown. 

The statement came the same day in response to Trump’s tweets that are alleged to have started the riots in the capital, for which he is now also under an ongoing impeachment trial.

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Apps Society Video Chat

Libraries by the yard for Zoom backgrounds make a rise in demand for second hand books

The year of 2020 has been quite the year of ‘strange and unprecedented’ times as the saying goes and 2021 looks set to keep hold of that tradition. As the slow realisation that life will never return to quite how it once was, we continue to find ourselves adapting to life in this ‘new normal’. 

Zoom is one company that has dominated headlines this year as making mega-profits from the uptake in sales of their platform from users stuck at home due to the pandemic. The company has truly lucked out from a worldwide tragedy with a staggering rise in profits from $5.5 million to $185.7 million for the same period last year. 

Yet it’s not just the company Zoom that has profited from the rise in digital conferencing software usage. Zoom has become a new word in our shared vocabulary, changing culture with effects such as detailed neckline and slouchy waistline as Zoom influenced fashion trends that emerged in late 2020. The brand name software has even coined its own term of ‘zoomers’ – a play on the word ‘boomers’ to describe older generations, ‘zoomers’ describes those of Gen Z born into this time. 

Other unpredictable consequences of the rise in videoing into work from home is the increasing demand for second hand books. Some large scale companies such as Random House offer free digital zoom backgrounds including their publications, whilst other more boutique companies such as Bookbarn International offer bespoke services. The UK based book store describes the growing interest in their library by the yard service, which aims to help customers looking to improve their home office decor. The second hand book retailer will then help to tailor make the bookshelf into a selection uniquely tailored for each customer. The aim of the retailer is to help customers find books that reflect and expand upon their individual interests and specialities.

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Influencers Politics Society Travel

Online influencers receive backlash for travel during global pandemic

Online influencers have received backlash recently for their lavish Instagram posts featuring them globetrotting and holidaying as usual, despite a global pandemic. Social media stars, often having risen to fame from reality TV shows or celebrity gossip sites, are used by businesses as advertising for their services or products in the same way as traditional advertising uses famous actors or models. Stars of social media sites like Instagram and TikTok however have been deemed out of touch with the public to be posting jealousy inducing travel porn whilst the majority of us around the world are still existing in various states of lockdown. 

Stars such as ‘travelinmysoul’, the TikTok account run by influence account Barbora Ondrackova, has over 176.6 thousand followers on TikTok and over 535 thousand followers on her @fashioninmysoul Instagram. Many of her thousands of fans however were displeased at a post she made at the end of 2020 showing a compilation of places she’d visited that year. The insensitivity of the post and questionable activity of the content enraged many commenters. 

Other influencers coming under fire for their choice to continue travel during a time when infections of COVID-19 continue to rise in many places include reality TV star Chloe Ferry. The star, made famous on UK reality show Geordie Shore, featured herself in Dubai partying as usual and making the statement to “Fuck 2020!” Celebrities such as Ferry have clapbacked at the criticisms, claiming the travel was essential for their work online as influencers. 

Elsewhere in the USA there have been fears that influencers online taking refuge from the pandemic in more rural areas may encourage a migration by others. As people confined to densely populated urban areas become increasingly frustrated by lockdown measures, there are concerns they will follow their celebrity idols to smaller and middle-town areas currently less affected by the pandemic.

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Apps Politics Social Media Twitter Uncategorized

Twitter sued by the man behind NY Post’s infamous Hunter Biden story

A couple weeks before the US presidential election, the New York Post—a right wing tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch—published a story about Hunter Biden, the son of then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The thrust of the article was that Hunter essentially bribed foreign officials with access to his father when the latter was Barack Obama’s vice president.

How the story developed was odd to say the least: someone went to a computer repair shop—sort of like a health analytics company for computers—and dropped off a water-damaged laptop that allegedly belonged to Hunter. The owner of the shop proceeded to look at the contents of the laptop’s hard drive, discovering a mass of incriminating files. Then, as any rational, well-meaning individual would do, he decided it was a good idea to share them with Rudy Guliani’s lawyer. Then he turned the hard drive over to the FBI.

Guliani and his army of Trump-worshipping orcs shopped the hard drive story around to various media outlets. The Post, presumably, was the only one to accept it. The article was published, and the Trump campaign thought it had its October surprise. But within a few hours the article had been censored by Twitter, which later justified the clearly-political move by citing its “hacked materials” policy. It even disabled the NY Post’s Twitter account.

A couple days later Twitter restored the account as well as the censored links, but of course the damage was done; the controversy surrounding the story had become far bigger than the story itself. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded to the hoopla by saying he didn’t want “Twitter to be a distributor for hacked materials,” but conceded that it had been a “mistake” to simply censor an article without providing any context.

Anyway, the owner of the computer repair shop, John Paul Mac Isaac, is now suing Twitter for defamation. His lawyers claim that by slapping the “hacked materials” label on the Post’s story, Twitter implied that he is a hacker. Isaac is seeking $500 million in punitive damages, an unspecified amount in compensatory damages, and a “public retraction of all false statements.”

“Plaintiff is not a hacker and the information obtained from the computer does not [constitute] hacked materials because Plaintiff lawfully gained access to the computer,” the lawsuit says, adding that Isaac “is now widely considered a hacker” and was forced to close his repair business due to threats and negative customer reviews.

This reminds me of that time when the previously-bald-headed Elon Musk was sued for defamation after referring to a cave diver as a “pedo guy” on Twitter. He won the case by claiming his tweet was satirical. Poor judgment on the part of that judge.

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Apple Blog Companies Google Microsoft Policy Politics Privacy

Europe to break up big tech if U.S. can’t

Following antitrust investigations from the U.S. Government into online giants Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple back in July 2020, the EU has now threatened to break up Silicon Valley’s big tech companies if the US can’t.

The argument revolves around monopoly and antitrust laws, put in place to stop companies from engaging in anti competitive behaviour. Whilst the U.S has been conducting investigations this December in an aim to break up Facebook and bringing seemingly incriminating emails sent from its founder to light, the EU has since released two major new drafts of regulations for tech companies. 

The two documents are the Digital Markets Act and a Digital Services Act which seek to hold companies accountable for both unfair competition and the regulation of illegal behaviour on their platforms. The documents come from the EU centre of Brussels and are the first significant revamp of policy from the EU in twenty years. Both proposals for the new acts will first need to be voted on by the Council of Ministers and European Parliament before being able to be made into law. There is, however, no timetable as of yet to when this might occur. 

The proposals include big fines for big tech companies seeking to eat up market competition. Companies will be liable for up to 10% of their worldwide revenue for acts of deliberate anti-competition, while fines for up to 6% of global revenue will be put in place for companies that fail to regulate their platforms for illegal behaviour. 

If the new laws were to come into place they would indicate one of the biggest and most significant shifts in worldwide policy making, as EU law would greatly impact US companies’ working practices. The EU laws are noted to be some of the most strict and stringent big tech companies would have to comply with.