By all means, follow the rules. But after hundreds of years of fighting for our rights, we must fight for the freedoms they won’t give back.
Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.Theodore Roosevelt
In 2019, Beijing went hard on the emerging COVID-19 strain in Wuhan. The world watched in horror as apartment buildings were welded shut. This was the lockdown of our nightmares.
Beijing celebrated the success in bringing the virus to heel, suggesting it could only be extinguished through lockdowns.
Inevitably, as the virus spread across the western world. governments rushed to import the Chinese strategy. Lockdown hard and fast, and the virus will disappear for good.
As I write this in Melbourne, 18 months later, and 200 days of lockdown later, I feel that no one with any commonsense could avoid asking whether China was telling the full story.
One of the key architects of the Wuhan lockdown is now warning about the strategy working against the Delta variant, which has emerged in Wuhan.
Zhang Wenhong is a leading Chinese epidemiologist and he’s now questioning the country’s zero tolerance approach.
Like the rest of the world, the Delta variant has now breached China’s defences, with record local infections in dozens of cites.
Authorities are now deciding whether to reintroduce travel restrictions, mass testing and hyperlocal lockdowns. Even though right now, millions of Chinese are in lockdown.
Living with the virus
“The world needs to learn how to coexist with this virus,” Zhang wrote on his social media Weibo platform, where he has three million followers. “What is really difficult is whether we can have the wisdom to coexist with the pandemic in the long run.”
Needless to say, that hasn’t gone down too well with his Chinese masters.
The suggestion of a softened approach to China’s zero-case approach to virus control enraged nationalists.
Zhang has found himself accused of “pandering to foreign ideas,” while an apparent witch hunt is targeting his academic credentials.
But just like in China, anyone who questions the ongoing tough lockdown restrictions is at best bullied, at worst silenced.
The will of the people
In the background, nervous governments watch closely as their multi million dollar public polling rolls in, showing whether or not they still enjoy support of the people.
So any dissent from one of the key architects of China’s original lockdown isn’t going to go down well here either, because they’ve risked the political careers on China’s lockdown strategy.
It’s true – a pandemic makes public protest dangerous. But protest we must, in whatever way we can without risking our health. Governments and bureaucracy must be held accountable, especially during a crisis.
The west often points fingers at totalitarian states for their grip on the people, because of the freedoms they take away.
Australians, and in particular Victorians right now are being warned our “freedoms” are only earned through compliance. This is very dangerous territory.
It’s far from over
Just like the lockdown debate in China right now, the other inconvenient truth for Australian politicians is the situation in the US. Despite the vaccine rollout, masks are back. Partly because not enough people have been vaccinated (though that figure is many many more times higher than Australia at this stage).
On top of that, Australia has had a dangerous public debate about the safety of its most commonly available vaccine, Astra Zeneca. No wonder people are hesitant.
It’s the perfect recipe for ongoing restrictions. Lockdowns in the most populous state of New South Wales could extend into next year. Melburnians are being told that to get out of a longer lockdown, they need to remain in lockdown indefinitely.
A week after Melbourne emerged from its fifth lockdown of the pandemic, it entered its sixth, with no end in sight, and no evidence the restrictions are bringing case number down. So they just impose more restrictions.
Police are roaming children’s playgrounds. It’s now illegal to remove your mask to drink alcohol outside. It’s illegal to leave the house after 9pm, not that there was anything to do anyway.
Worryingly, in Western Australia, the Premier Mark McGowan is holding firm on life with lockdowns even after 80 per cent vaccine rate is met. His public support is at 78% – it turns out the people of WA love the idea of being cut off from the rest of Australia.
After all, Western Australia had been reluctant to join the Federation in 1900.
It is not the function of government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.Robert H. Jackson
Protest movements often begin with the young, and so it’s no wonder younger people are flouting the rules and contracting the virus.
Some refer to the Delta variant as an epidemic of the young.
While restrictions and lockdowns have kept the virus low, it’s just one set of statistics.
Lessons from September 11
Twenty years after the attacks on 9/11, we are still reeling from the horrors of that day.
But we are also still living with the freedoms we lost as citizens because of that day.
Passed just six weeks after the attacks, the USA PATRIOT Act was created to strengthen domestic security and broaden the powers of law-enforcement agencies.
The act gave the government unprecedented power to indefinitely access and detain immigrants. The FBI was given the freedom to search telephones without a court order.
Facial recognition is common at airports. And data on millions of Americans are being collected and stored.
Trillions were spent on wars against an enemy that couldn’t be defeated.
The hangover from this pandemic is yet to be seen. Restrictions will be in place for a long time – not to mention the constant threat they will return should just one case be detected.
The bigger threat
The biggest threat isn’t the pandemic we see today. It’s the erosion of our freedoms and the acceptance that governments can do as they please with no consequences.
All while our inner-fight is being worn down by the length of harsh lockdowns and the sense that “we can’t do anything about it”.
But make no mistake, this pandemic is going to last a very long time. Restrictions will be in place for a long time – not to mention the constant threat they will return should just one case be detected.
That’s a very dangerous place to be in for a liberal democracy.
Public servants are just that.
“The best lightning rod for your protection is your own spine.”― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Woman. Life. Freedom,” Iran protests now on the world’s stadium
Protests are engulfing Iran as a revolution against oppression spills onto the global stage, with the world unable to turn a blind eye
In Iran, protests are engulfing the country as thousands take to the streets in a revolution against oppression.
Women are cutting their hair and burning their hijabs, demanding some form of change to the strict rules that impact their ultimate freedom.
From the Iranian Revolution in 1979 to the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the nation’s residents have witnessed their fair share of turmoil.
Many insist that religion, like Islam, is being used as a reason to violate basic human rights in Iran.
Women in the country and around the world, are now lifting the veil on Iran’s corruption.
For nearly forty years, women in Iran have faced a life of control and oppression. Subject to the strict Islamic Republic rules, bound by religion.
There have been protests in Iran before, but nothing like what we see today.
Women and men are filling the streets of the entire country, in a show of solidarity against the regime, putting their lives on the line.
Footage of Iranian women burning the hijabs and cutting their hair has encapsulated social media.
Spilling onto the global stage
The uprising against the regime in Iran and its treatment of women is openly and loudly spilling onto the global stage.
Its voice is so powerful it is even flooding into the sporting arena. In Qatar, Iranian soccer players refused to sing their national anthem before their World Cup game.
While the move from the sporting stars was seen by a global audience, a cloud of fear now looms over the safety and wellbeing of the players returning to their homeland.
As history shows us, sport has often been used as an avenue to express a political stance.
At the 1968 Mexico Olympics, U.S. athlete Tommie Smith raised his black-gloved fist, in defiance of racial segregation.
This is perhaps one of the most iconic moments, illustrating the blurred line between politics and sport.
UN finally calls out Iran
During the Iran protests, footage of authorities using brutal force against protestors sparked global attention and outrage.
Now, the United Nation has called out Iran’s actions.
At its 35th special session, the UN Human Rights Council launched a new investigation. It will independently investigate alleged human rights violations during the protests.
Is Musk flushing Twitter down the drain?
Elon Musk has made plenty of changes to Twitter, but will it make or break the social media platform?
When Elon Musk walked into Twitter with a sink you knew things were about to get interesting.
It’s been a chaotic few weeks of change for the social media platform. Musk quickly showed thousands of employees the door.
Noticeably, he also upended the iconic ‘blue tick’ hierarchy.
The new boss is adamant in making the platform a place of free speech, often using public Twitter polls to dictate his next move.
It’s not very often you have a billionaire and CEO of a tech giant communicate with people everyday via a tweet thread.
While people have been quick to judge Musk’s changes, he remains one of the most successful businessmen in history.
He lead the charge on flying to space with his SpaceX empire and was ahead of the game in the electric vehicle market.
Perhaps, the changes to the platform are a smart move for the company to succeed, despite the abruptness of them.
Proof is in the pudding because the numbers show Twitter has added 1.6 million daily users this week alone, which is an all-time high.
Plus World Cup traffic hit almost 20,000 tweets per second today, breaking another record.
It’s likely Twitter may be more successful in private hands. Financially though, the company has declined, causing widespread concern about its economic stability.
Musk wants to vastly increase the revenue the company makes through subscriptions, but a question mark looms over its ability to triumph.
Suspended accounts debate
Previously, Twitter had banned the accounts of many users, particularly those prone to far-right rhetorics.
Former President Donald Trump’s account had been suspended for nearly a year, alongside conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and controversial Andrew Tate.
Musk asked his followers in a poll if Twitter should “offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts? As Musk says, they haven’t broken the law?”
It all follows a turbulent economic time for the social media giant as it finds its place in the ever changing cyber sphere.
Whether or not Twitter goes down the drain, remains to be seen.
But love him or hate him, Musk has created an entertaining platform, with millions flocking to get a taste of what is the Twitter saga.
Does Donald Trump need Twitter to win in 2024?
Donald Trump is making a political comeback in 2024, but can he gain relevance without Twitter?
Donald Trump is making his political comeback, and Twitter boss Elon Musk has welcomed the former President back to the platform with open arms.
It was only a matter of weeks after taking over that Musk decided to lift Trump’s nearly year-long suspension.
Many expected Trump to jump at the offer and begin flooding our Twitter feeds again.
However, the former President may not want to return to Twitter, but why?
U.S. Commentator Susan Tehrani believes Trump’s decision to withhold his return to Twitter comes back to money.
Twitter was Trump’s favourite app when he was President. He used the platform to drum up support and create buzz. Love him or hate him, Trump undeniably had people right around the world speaking about his latest thought.
In today’s society, people consume news via social media, in particular via Twitter.
With Trump absent from Twitter, it raises question about how he will maintain relevance in social media sphere in the lead up to his 2024 return.
Trump heads his own social media platform ‘Truth Social’, but it has just four million users, opposed to Twitter’s more than 200 million.
Does Twitter need Trump, more than Trump needs Twitter?
With Musk at the reigns of Twitter, the social media giant is shifting its direction. Musk has made it clear he doesn’t believe in the previous ‘blue tick’ hierarchy, quickly scrapping the process.
He has been vocal about his desire for free speech on the platform. However, many are concerned that the changes may have a negative impact.
Although, change isn’t always a bad thing and perhaps Twitter needed a makeover, to keep up with today’s evolving society and array of opinions.
While Twitter is still popular, Musk’s move to reinstate Donald Trump’s account might have been strategic.
Trump is a bold politician, and regardless of his Twitter status, many are wondering what his next move will be.
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