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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.
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. 

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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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.

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.

Blog Influencers Politics Society

Who is Q?

“Q”, the anonymous individual behind the QAnon movement, is apparently two people—or was one person and is now another. That’s according to an analysis done by a company called OrphAnalytics. OrphAnalytics is dedicated to authenticating texts and “detecting ghostwriting issues.”

The company recently applied its genomics-based technology to 4952 QAnon posts—or “Q drops”—that had been published on 4chan and 8chan between October 2017 and November 2020.

“The whole corpus is collected in order to challenge the proposal that a single writer be the sole author of Q-drops specific to QAnon,” OrphAnalytics wrote in an abstract.

It goes on to explain (in absurdly esoteric language that would stop a fast courier in its tracks):

“The stylometry of the 7.5k concatenates of Q-drops classified chronologically reveals two clusters, characteristic of two different styles, which correspond to the two periods of publication of the Q-drops on the 4chan and 8chan forums. This observation sheds light on the background information of the media surveys.

“The signal is mostly carried by Q-drops of less than 1000 characters and clustering does not seem to interfere with the analyses. The other type of concatenation tested, concatenation by size, proves unable to cluster reasonably. A success rate was calculated by non-hierarchical clustering analysis: more than 90%. This rate is comparable to that measured in a criminal case under investigation and to that obtained on texts from a solved case.”

What the hell does that mean? Damned if I know. Apparently it means that two different people have written as “Q.”

“Our results very strongly suggest the existence of two different authors behind Q,” said OrphAnalytics’ CEO Claude Alain Roten, according to PRNewswire. “Moreover, these distinct signatures clearly correspond to separate periods in time and different online forums.”

In other words, the 4chan Q is different from the 8chan Q. The former was active from October 28, 2017 to December 1, 2017—a pretty short stint. At that point, the Q baton was passed to someone else, and that person began posting on 8chan. Roten says it’s probable—though not certain—that a single person has authored all of the Q drops since December 2017.

So where is OrphAnalytics going with this? Well, Roten says the objective is to unmask Mr Q.

“The next step is to contribute putting a name on QAnon by comparing these signatures to those of the usual suspects,” he said. “To do that, we gather and cure written material from these persons to compare it with Q messages.” 

It has been suggested that 8chan owner Jim Watkins is Q. That seems logical enough.

Influencers Politics Society

New York Times admits its ‘Caliphate’ podcast was a full-blown hoax

When the New York Times reports on foreign affairs, it’s at best tendentious. Sometimes it’s just flat-out false. Fake news, as the MAGA people say. Most of the time the “paper of record” never bothers to correct the record. But occasionally it does. Today is one of those rare occasions, with the Times admitting that its award-winning “Caliphate” podcast from 2018 was pure fiction.

Hosted by “journalist” Rukmini Callimachi, the podcast revolved around interviews with a Canadian man named Shehroze Chaudhry. Calling himself Abu Huzayfah, Chaudhry claimed to have been an ISIS fighter in Syria and described in graphic detail the atrocities he supposedly participated in. Callimachi played the role of credulous listener, taking for granted that everything Chaudhry told her was true.

As it happens, everything he told her was made up. This became clear back in September, when Chaudhry was arrested in Canada for perpetuating a “terrorist hoax.” As news of Chaudhry’s arrest made the rounds and people began asking questions, the Times defended its reporting using a rather curious argument, namely, that they never claimed their journalism was accurate.

“The uncertainty about Abu Huzayfah’s story is central to every episode of ‘Caliphate’ that featured him,” the paper said.

Ah, the classic “unreliable narrator” device. Common to fiction, but traditionally frowned-upon in journalism, to put it mildly. Then again, the Times has made it a sort of specialty in recent years, quoting all kinds of anonymous intelligence officials to persuade the American public that Russia, Iran and Venezuela are behind every iniquitous act under the sun.

Anyway, the Times evidently decided that “Caliphate” was a little to fraudulent for comfort. So the paper performed a review of the podcast and concluded that it “did not meet the standards for Times journalism.” That’s debatable, but OK.

“The Times found that ‘Caliphate’ gave too much credence to the false or exaggerated accounts of one of its main subjects, Shehroze Chaudhry, a resident of Canada who claimed to have taken part in Islamic State executions.”

How embarrassing. I didn’t study journalism in school, but if I had, I imagine The Importance of Vetting Primary Sources would have been among the first lessons taught.

As for Rukmini Callimachi, the terrorist conman’s willing dupe (chatbots in Australia would have done a better job running the podcast), the Times says she’s going to be allowed to keep her job. “She’s going to take on a new beat, and she and I are discussing possibilities,” said executive editor Dean Baquet. “I think it’s hard to continue covering terrorism after what happened with this story. But I think she’s a fine reporter.”

That someone like Callimachi can be seriously described as a “fine reporter” is a damning reflection of the extreme low to which journalistic standards have sunk.

Influencers Social Media Society TikTok

Don’t read this if you like cereal

Darwin was wrong, and the #CerealChallenge proves it. What is the #CerealChallenge, you say? Brace yourself. Take a breath. Stop reading if you’re feeling irritable and/or eating cereal. The #CerealChallenge is the latest trend on TikTok. Have you ever felt inclined to eat cereal out of someone else’s mouth? Well, now you have an excuse not only to do it, but to film yourself doing it and then to upload it on the internet. Because that’s what the #CerealChallenge entails.

When I first read that people were eating cereal out of each other’s mouths, I saw an image in my mind of people imitating the feeding techniques of birds. Meaning one person chews cereal and then lets it drop into the other person’s mouth. That was the wrong interpretation. I suppose I should have known better.

In the #CerealChallenge, one person’s mouth acts as the bowl. He or she lies down flat on his or her back. (The floor and the table are ideal surfaces based on my research.) That person then opens up wide, as you do at the dentist’s office. The other proceeds to pour cereal and milk into the gaping mouth (the cereal is typically poured first, though I’ve seen it done the other way round; each to his own).

Once the cereal is in the “bowl,” the upright person grabs a spoon and digs in. The video clip is usually accompanied by some atrocious R&B song.

It’s a repellent spectacle. It’s also, as you might imagine, quite dangerous. In one video, a man attempts (or pretends to attempt) to do this with a young woman he introduces as his sister. The sister dumps the milk in first. It’s too much, though, and once the cereal is added the man spits it all over his face and the table.

I’m waiting for the news story about the teenager who choked to death while trying out the #CerealChallenge.

The #CerealChallenge is revolting in any case. But more so when someone tries it with a dog, as one person did. In that clip, a boy who looks to be college-age lies down on the floor and someone else pours milk into his mouth as a dog looks on. Once the milk is in place the dog is allowed to walk over, at which point it begins to drink the milk from the boy’s mouth. Off camera someone can be heard laughing inanely.

The video’s caption says that “he yakked in the bathroom after this.” You don’t say …

The first such “challenge” I remember seeing is the Ice Bucket Challenge. That, while dumb, reportedly raised more than $200 million for ALS research. The only value the Cereal Challenge is likely to have is providing extraterrestrials with a case study in primitive human behavior.

Influencers Politics Social Media Twitter

Jack Dorsey’s personal fortune has tripled since Trump’s election

Remember when Donald Trump announced his presidential bid in the summer of 2015? Came down the escalator in Trump Tower and gave an interview in which he railed against Mexican immigrants, establishing himself as the Racism Candidate and guaranteeing himself tons of free media coverage.

Trump’s train wreck candidacy was a bonanza for the media industry, and everyone wanted a piece of the action. In the guise of challenging Trump, all the big Western media gave him wall-to-wall coverage. They projected Trump into our living rooms and workplaces. They made it impossible for people to ignore him and his antics. They breathed life into his clownish campaign and, in doing so, helped to polarize American society in a way that had not been achieved since the Civil War. And the circus continued into Trump’s first term.

Why did the media do this? Because it was good for business. Pure and simple. All the cable news stations enjoyed record-breaking ratings. Trump articles in the major newspapers got enormous traffic. But Trump wasn’t just a windfall for CNN and the New York Times. Social media got a big piece of the pie too.

According to a new report in Forbes, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has seen his net worth climb more than 240% since Trump was elected president. “He now sits atop a $4.4 billion fortune, more than triple the $1.3 billion he had at the start of Trump’s presidency.” Here’s more:

“Twitter’s stock has climbed 105%, boosting Dorsey’s stake in the company from $275 million to $610 million. A bigger share of his wealth comes from Dorsey’s other business, payments firm Square. The Twitter chief executive also serves as CEO of Square, in which he held a bigger, $1 billion stake at the time of Trump’s inauguration. Square shares have surged nearly 370% since then, compared to a 45% increase in the overall stock market. Dorsey’s Square stake is now worth $3.6 billion, enough to compose 80% of the tech tycoon’s fortune.”

That’s right—@jack has benefited more from Trump’s presidency than perhaps anybody else. It’s insane to think that he would ever consider suspending Trump’s Twitter account, despite his passion for political censorship and Trump’s tendency to use Twitter to threaten entire countries with massive acts of violence, including war crimes.

I think it’s safe to say that pledging to bomb Iran’s cultural sites—a unambiguous war crime—violates Twitter’s “community guidelines,” for example. But @jack doesn’t care. He’ll just keep pulling accounts belonging to Iranians and Venezuelans and Syrians, and alternative voices inside the US, all the while raking in a few more billion dollars. Jack’s a jerk-off.