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Thread: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Wuhan Pneumonia

  1. #331
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    Saul Soliz

    Saul Soliz, legendary coach and MMA pioneer, dies of COVID-19 complications
    Aug 19, 2021
    Marc Raimondi
    ESPN Staff Writer

    Saul Soliz, a mixed martial arts pioneer who trained some of the biggest names in the history of MMA and helped get the sport off the ground in Texas, died Tuesday morning due to complications from COVID-19, according to his wife, Toi. He was 55.

    Soliz, whom many have dubbed "The Godfather of Texas MMA," was in the hospital for "several weeks" because of the coronavirus, she said.

    "He had a long battle," Toi told ESPN. "He fought really hard."

    Soliz was most recently the head coach at Houston Metro Fight Club, but his influence on MMA goes back more than 20 years. He coached all-time great UFC champions such as Tito Ortiz, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman, Michael Bisping and Ricco Rodriguez, who was one of his closest friends. Soliz coached with Ortiz on The Ultimate Fighter and had also worked with iconic women's MMA fighter Cris Cyborg.

    "The legacy you left will live on through the lives of all the students, family, and friends you have touched along the way," Cyborg wrote on Facebook.

    Added Bisping in a tweet: "A great man and truly one of the best coaches I've worked with."

    In addition, Soliz was instrumental in helping MMA get off the ground more than 20 years ago, working with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation to develop the rules for the sport in the state.

    "The ties between us in Texas MMA are completely intertwined as it is for the entire Texas MMA community," UFC matchmaker Mick Maynard, who once promoted shows in Texas, wrote on Facebook. "No one can say they weren't influenced directly or indirectly by Saul including commission, promoters, fighters and coaches."

    Soliz's Renegades Extreme Fighting promotion in Houston made its debut in 2000, one year before Dana White and the Fertitta brothers bought the UFC. Toi said Soliz was the first person in Texas to put together a show with "that production value that really you're accustomed to seeing today."

    "Mixed martial arts is definitely his legacy," Toi said. "It's kind of the vehicle for pretty much everything else that he did. In that world and through the lives that he touched in that world, he's very loved. He's very respected. And truly missed by so many people. He touched a lot of lives. I know that he touched a lot of lives, but at this point I think it would even surprise him how many lives he touched."

    In recent years, Soliz had been focusing on developing a younger generation of talent in MMA. Adrian Yanez, Soliz's star pupil, is one of the best up-and-coming bantamweight fighters in the UFC. Bantamweight prospect Mana Martinez, another Soliz student, will make his UFC debut Aug. 28.

    Yanez said that Soliz became a father figure to him when Yanez's father died in 2016. Soliz hired him as a coach at Metro Fight Club and took him under his wing. Soliz's death, Yanez said, is not just a blow for his family and students but also the Texas MMA scene and beyond.

    On Aug. 4, Yanez said he was able to have one last conversation with his beloved coach before things took a turn for the worse. A few days earlier, Yanez was charged with cornering his teammates at a Fury FC show with Soliz in the hospital. The results were not what Yanez was hoping for, and he apologized to Soliz on the phone. Soliz told him it wasn't his fault and not to worry about it.

    "Toward the end of the conversation he just started telling me how proud he was of me, how far I've come, how I never gave up and consistently always just stayed true to who I am," Yanez said. "He was just proud of the man I became. He kept giving me my praises. ... I was just super happy to be able to tell him if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be where I'm at. I've always tried to express that to him at every turn, every corner. Because you just never know."
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  2. #332
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    Coronavirus (COVID-19) Wuhan Pneumonia

    Janice Carisi-Rose, Wayne's sister, posted on Facebook that Wayne died of COVID pneumonia on Aug 25.

    "He had underlying health conditions and refused to get vaccinated. He contracted severe covid a week or so before his death. He was only 61 years young."

    Carisi wrote 6 articles for our print magazine starting in 2000. He wrote one for our website - Will and Chi, Yin and Yang by Wang Shi-Qing and Wayne Carisi

    Help Wayne's Family Take Care Of Final Wishes

    $2,550 raised of $5,000 goal

    Daniel Vasquez is organizing this fundraiser.
    Created 2 days ago
    Funerals & Memorials
    HI,
    My name is Dan Vasquez and I created this fund so that Wayne's Children can come to California and settle his final business. They're in Hawaii and need to come to Southern California to take care of his belongings and final wishes. We lost Wayne suddenly and his family needs assistance. I set the goal of 5k, but am not sure if it's enough. He was loved by so man and left some big shoes to fill. Thank you for anything you can donate.
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  3. #333
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    oh Joe...

    Joe Rogan Says He Has COVID-19 And Has Taken The Drug Ivermectin

    September 1, 20218:28 PM ET
    VANESSA ROMO
    Twitter


    Joe Rogan has told his Instagram followers he has been taking ivermectin, a deworming veterinary drug formulated for use in cows and horses, to help fight the coronavirus. The Food and Drug Administration has warned against taking the medication, saying animal doses of the drug can cause nausea, vomiting and in some cases severe hepatitis.
    Michael S. Schwartz/Getty Images

    Joe Rogan, the mega-popular podcast host who has suggested that young, fit people don't need to get the COVID-19 vaccine, has announced he tested positive for the virus, but is feeling fine thanks to a cocktail of unproven medical treatments.

    In an Instagram video, the 54-year-old host of The Joe Rogan Experience, said he felt "very weary" on Saturday and got tested for the coronavirus the following day.

    "Throughout the night I got fevers, sweats, and I knew what was going on," Rogan told his 13.1 million followers.

    After the diagnosis, he said he "immediately threw the kitchen sink at it."

    Rogan says he took a drug the FDA urges people not to use
    His methods included taking ivermectin, a deworming veterinary drug that is formulated for use in cows and horses. While a version of the drug is sometimes prescribed to people for head lice or skin conditions, the formula for animal use is much more concentrated. The Food and Drug administration is urging people to stop ingesting the animal version of the drug to fight COVID-19, warning it can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, neurologic disorders and potentially severe hepatitis requiring hospitalization.

    Rogan added that his treatments also included monoclonal antibodies, Z-pack antibiotics and a vitamin drip for "three days in a row."

    "Here we are on Wednesday, and I feel great," he said.

    Rogan has drawn fire for his comments around the vaccine
    Rogan has won legions of dedicated listeners by courting controversy on his show. In October, he came under fire for interviewing far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on his Spotify show. More recently, he faced criticism after saying that young and otherwise healthy people don't need a COVID-19 vaccine.

    "People say, do you think it's safe to get vaccinated? I've said, yeah, I think for the most part it's safe to get vaccinated. I do. I do," Rogan said in an April 28 episode of the podcast.

    "But if you're like 21 years old, and you say to me, should I get vaccinated? I'll go no. Are you healthy? Are you a healthy person?"

    Rogan continued, "If you're a healthy person, and you're exercising all the time, and you're young, and you're eating well, like, I don't think you need to worry about this."

    He later explained he is not "an anti-vax person" and joked he is not "a respected source of information, even for me."
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  4. #334
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    De La Hoya survives covid

    Oscar De La Hoya released from hospital, says Covid 'hit me really hard'
    Tim Fitzsimons and Minyvonne Burke 4 days ago


    © Provided by NBC News
    "I was in there for 3 days. Covid hit me really hard," De La Hoya, 48, said on Twitter. "I was in the best shape of my life, and I really can't wait to get back in the ring."

    Covid-19 derailed De La Hoya's planned return to the boxing ring on Saturday, when he was scheduled to fight Vitor Belfort in Los Angeles after 13 years away.

    "I mean, what are the chances of me getting Covid?" De La Hoya said in a video from his hospital bed Friday. "I've been taking care of myself, and this really, really kicked my a--."

    Belfort will now fight Evander Holyfield in the main event of the Triller Fight Club, which has been moved from Los Angeles to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida. Former President Donald Trump will serve as host and commentator for the matchup, Variety reported.

    De La Hoya, known as "The Golden Boy," won 10 world titles in six weight classes, according to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, which inducted him in 2014. He was one of the most popular boxers in the history of the sport, generating hundreds of millions of dollars from his pay-per-view matches, biography.com reported.

    His last professional fight was a loss to Manny Pacquiao in 2008. He retired the following year.
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  5. #335
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    Scott Richards

    Martial arts expert, 32, who tried to drown his NHS nurse girlfriend after accusing her of having an affair as she worked 12-hour shifts on Covid ward in lockdown is spared jail
    Scott Richards pushed ex-girlfriend Kathryn Rich's head under water last year
    He was found guilty of 'cruel acts of violence' against NHS nurse Ms Rich, 40
    Judge said he had 'brought shame' on all those involved in martial art sports
    By ISABELLA NIKOLIC FOR MAILONLINE

    PUBLISHED: 12:53 EDT, 14 September 2021 | UPDATED: 13:13 EDT, 14 September 2021

    A martial arts expert has been spared jail after he tried to drown his NHS nurse girlfriend when their relationship hit the rocks in lockdown.

    Jealous Scott Richards, 32, pushed his ex-girlfriend Kathryn Rich's head under water as she was about to have a bath.

    Richards, of Treherbert, Rhondda, was found guilty of 'cruel acts of violence' against NHS nurse Ms Rich, 40, his girlfriend for 11 years.

    A judge said he had 'brought shame' on all those involved in martial art sports but let him off with a suspended prison sentence.


    Scott Richards (left), 32, pushed his ex-girlfriend Kathryn Rich's (right) head under water as she was about to have a bath

    The domestic violence started in the first lockdown when Richards had to close his martial arts training school and Ms Rich was working 12-hour shifts on Covid wards.

    Prosecutor Rosamund Rutter said: 'The defendant subjected his partner to frightening and cruel acts of violence, which may be partly due to the lockdown.

    'He pushed her head into the bath water and held it down. She could not breathe and desperately tried to pull her head back but the defendant had a firm grip.'

    Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard Ms Rich rang police to say her partner had tried to drown her on April 4 last year.

    She also told them about an incident on March 24, the day after the national lockdown started, when Richards headbutted her after finding a 'personal note' about her feelings towards a work colleague.


    Richards, of Treherbert, Rhondda, was found guilty of 'cruel acts of violence' against NHS nurse Ms Rich (pictured together), 40, his girlfriend for 11 years

    Ms Rich denied she was having an affair with a workmate and said it was 'just flirting'.

    She said the bathroom attack was sparked by her commenting about another man in fancy dress on Facebook.

    Mother-of-four Ms Rich told the court: 'Covid had just hit and we were told to have a bath and wash our uniforms when we got home from work.

    'The bath was run when Scott came upstairs and pushed me backwards with quite a lot of force.

    'The bath was pretty full, he pushed my head and shoulders under water. His hand was on the back of my neck, I couldn't get out of the water, it was probably only seconds but it felt longer.


    The domestic violence started in the first lockdown when Richards had to close his martial arts training school and Ms Rich was working 12-hour shifts on Covid wards

    'When he let go I couldn't see, I couldn't breathe, I couldn't hear. I swallowed water, my clothing was soaked.'

    Richards chose not to give evidence in his defence at the four-day trial.

    He was found guilty of assaulting Ms Rich in the bathroom by a majority verdict of 11-1. He was unanimously found guilty of the headbutt assault.

    In a victim personal statement Ms Rich told Cardiff Crown Court: 'When Scott tried to drown me I didn't know if I was going to come back up again.

    'We had been together for 11 years and I genuinely loved him but I can't believe it's come to this.


    Prosecutor Rosamund Rutter said: 'The defendant subjected his partner to frightening and cruel acts of violence, which may be partly due to the lockdown'

    'I have been working in a hospital environment under the pressure of Covid-19 which has had an impact on me.'

    Richards was given a 30-week prison sentence suspended for 18 months and ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work.

    Judge Caroline Rees QC made him the subject of a two-year restraining order preventing him from contacting his former partner.

    She told Richards: 'It must have been absolutely terrifying for Ms Rich - she told the court she thought she was going to die.

    'You have shamed those involved in your sport by showing uncontrolled violence and jealous outbursts.'
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  6. #336
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    The Kung Fu Nuns

    Gene Ching
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  7. #337
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    Supply chain broken

    When will supply chains be back to normal? And how did things get so bad?

    [IMG] [/IMG]
    Experts say it will take a while, maybe more than a year, before the supply chain works its way back to a normal flow that will ease delivery delays and goods shortages. (Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)
    BY JON HEALEY, SAMANTHA MASUNAGA
    OCT. 14, 2021 UPDATED 5:43 PM PT
    Wondering why everything from cars and refrigerators to books and toys is in short supply?

    Blame the fouled-up supply chain that connects manufacturers around the world with the makers and assemblers of their component parts, as well as with the consumers and businesses that buy the finished goods. The problem emerged shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and it’s seemed to get only worse since then.

    How did we get into this mess? And why isn’t it getting better? The Times reached out to some supply chain experts, and here are their answers.

    What, exactly, is ‘the supply chain’?
    Manufacturers in the U.S. and the rest of the industrialized world have long outsourced the production of common and low-cost products to China and other low-wage countries. But starting in the 1970s, companies outsourced the production of an increasing number of more sophisticated products, often using multiple contractors to produce and then assemble the components.

    Here’s how it typically works: A company based in the U.S. will design and put the finishing touches on a product but will turn to one or more foreign manufacturers for raw materials and components if that will significantly cut the cost to build and deliver it. For example, according to the American University Auto Index, roughly half of each Dodge Ram 1500 truck that rolled out of a U.S. auto plant last year came from outside the U.S. and Canada.

    Some companies forgo having U.S. factories altogether, using contractors to assemble their products from the pieces made by subcontractors. With or without a U.S. plant, a company that relies on a far-flung supply chain requires some combination of planes, ships, trucks and warehouses to pull its products together and store the inventory.

    Global supply chains are especially prevalent in durable goods (such as cars and appliances), tech products (such as cellphones and computers), clothing, footwear, textiles, furniture and plastic goods. And although most U.S. imports come from China, Mexico and Canada are also important links in the supply chain here, as are a number of Asian and European countries.

    What caused the problem?
    In a word, COVID-19. The pandemic whirled up a toxic brew of forces that triggered and then exacerbated the shipping logjam.

    The first blow came when many of the Chinese plants that build parts or assemble goods for global manufacturers were shut down by coronavirus outbreaks. Similar disruptions soon spread across the globe, affecting both manufacturers and the logistics companies that ship, store and deliver their goods.

    After a brief COVID-related recession, however, demand for goods grew quickly, as people shifted to online buying and took up new habits (a surge in home-improvement projects, for example, boosted demand for appliances and construction materials).

    Manufacturers face a “perfect storm” of issues, said Nick Vyas, executive director of the Kendrick Global Supply Chain Institute at the USC Marshall School of Business.

    Labor, transportation and logistics costs are up, there’s reduced capacity because of the problems all along the supply chain, and there’s a finite amount of resources across the board, including the number of containers and amount of manufacturing capacity.

    “We might be able to buffer against one type of risk or two types of risk, but it’s the fact that all these challenges are happening at the same time,” said Nicole DeHoratius, an adjunct professor of operations management at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

    The pandemic is not entirely to blame. Robert Handfield, the Bank of America professor of supply chain management at North Carolina State University, said that “warehouse, distribution and truck driver shortages were bad before COVID.”

    The delays caused by the backlog in deliveries have been particularly disruptive to companies that operate with small inventories and rely on “just in time” shipments to fill orders. To avoid that pitfall, some companies are ordering extra supplies and components as a precaution, increasing the strain on the distribution system.

    Another factor: Concerns about the spread of COVID-19 and its variants have made it harder for trucks to cross borders. A report Monday by Moody’s Analytics said the differences among countries’ efforts to control the coronavirus have gummed up the movement of transportation workers at ports and other freight hubs, contributing to a problem that will get worse before it gets better.

    And it’s not easy to restart factories after they’ve been shut down to stem surges in coronavirus cases. Raw materials back up, and it can take weeks to restart production, Vyas said.

    “The supply chain is a system,” he said. “When you create shocks from the supply to the demand side and that continues to happen, the system isn’t getting enough time to reset and recalibrate.”

    Why are cargo ships waiting to be unloaded at the ports?
    West Coast ports were barely keeping up with the growth in freight before the pandemic and had no ability to absorb disruption, said Ayman Omar, an associate professor at American University’s Kogod School of Business. The pandemic has only worsened the situation, including a shortage of trucks to haul cargo containers to their destinations.

    There were 64 ships in a holding pattern near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Thursday.

    Some trucking industry executives blame higher federal unemployment benefits, which ended in September, for the driver shortage. Omar said that the benefits might have contributed to the problem in the early months of the pandemic, but the issue now is competition coming from transportation start-ups hungry for market share. Drivers come and go at trucking companies at an alarmingly high rate — turnover was more than 90% at large firms in the last quarter of 2020.

    Without enough trucks to carry them off, containers piled up on docks, and more kept coming — each new ship brings in 10,000 to 21,000 containers. And with the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach unable to handle the growing number of ships, vessels were spending about as much time waiting to anchor and unload — about two weeks — as it would take a ship to cross the Pacific, said Robert Khachatryan, chief executive of Freight Right Global Logistics of La Crescenta.

    Compounding the problem is the lack of transparency and information sharing, which makes it impossible for the manufacturers and importers who rely on the ports to see problems developing in advance and route around them, Omar said.
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    Continued from previous post

    How is this affecting me?
    Prices are higher for many things. The shortages and the heavy demand for shipping have combined to cause freight costs to skyrocket; the cost to move a container from China to the U.S. West Coast is four times what it was a year ago, and more than 10 times what it was before the pandemic.

    Manufacturers have passed their higher costs on to consumers, though that hasn’t seemed to stem the demand for goods, Vyas said. The increase is hitting not just the teak furniture you bought, imported from Indonesia, but also the running shoes and dress shirts you bought from a local retailer.

    Goods are taking longer to arrive. Handfield said he realized this summer that he needed a new refrigerator, so he ordered one in August. It’s not due until December. Some retailers are urging consumers to buy their holiday gifts now, while there’s still plenty of time for them to be delivered.

    Some items are becoming harder to find. Although we’re not seeing as many empty store shelves as we did in the early days of the pandemic, shortages are cropping up in unexpected places. For example, printers, game consoles and rental cars are harder to come by, all thanks to the semiconductor drought.

    More price inflation is expected. “You have this constant pressure of not having enough resources, strong demand,” Vyas said.

    How long will it last?
    Experts say it will take a while — maybe six months, maybe more than a year — before the supply chain can work its way through the backlog.

    “We have these orders coming in, we can’t work them off because we’re facing these labor shortages,” DeHoratius said. “Unless they stop coming in, it doesn’t allow us the time to get it through.”

    Some companies have even tried to hedge their bets by placing multiple orders for the same products from different factories. But that still requires shipping capacity to get the products to store shelves on time.

    How will this be resolved? Some economists argue that the convulsions in the shipping market will encourage U.S. manufacturers to shift more of their outsourced work from Asia to Mexico. But that’s a long-term fix. In the near term, experts say that repairing the supply chain will require addressing every part of it and not focusing on just one part of the process.

    For example, factory employees who work on manufacturing and raw materials processing need to be vaccinated to stop outbreaks.

    Ports need to expand hours so that more containers can be offloaded. The Biden administration announced a move in that direction Wednesday, saying the Port of Los Angeles would start operating around the clock, similar to moves made at the Port of Long Beach.

    Vyas likened the supply chain to a symphony, in which every piece must play its position for the whole ensemble to be successful.

    “We’re doing this in a silo — one touch point at a time — rather than as a system,” he said. “It needs to balance this out.”


    Jon Healey

    Jon Healey is a senior editor on the Utility Journalism team, which tries to help readers solve problems, answer questions and make big decisions about life in and around Los Angeles. He has been with the Los Angeles Times since 2000, previously reporting on technology news and writing opinion pieces.

    Samantha Masunaga

    Samantha Masunaga is a business reporter for the Los Angeles Times. She’s worked at the paper since 2014.
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  9. #339
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    Covid & Shanghai Disney

    34,000 visitors trapped at Shanghai Disneyland for hours after a woman tested positive for COVID-19
    Jiselle Lee
    7 mins ago

    Shanghai Disneyland Park locked its doors on about 34,000 theme park visitors and staff after a COVID-19 scare in order to test them for the virus.

    What happened: A woman from nearby Hangzhou traveled to Shanghai over the weekend and tested positive for COVID-19, prompting an extremely thorough response from the theme park.

    On Sunday, first responders clad in Hazmat suits entered the theme park and tested everyone before they could leave, including visitors, families and staff.
    The testing lasted hours after the theme park usually closes and people were finally able to leave the park around midnight.
    Theme park visitors were escorted back home via 220 special buses.
    It is unknown if the woman who tested positive visited the theme park or not, according to Bloomberg.
    On Monday, the 34,000 theme park visitors and staff tested negative for COVID-19. They are still required, however, to isolate themselves for two days before retesting.
    The park will be closed from Nov. 1 to Nov. 2 in accordance with the park’s pandemic requirements.
    According to the Shanghai Disneyland website, the park reserves the right to refuse admission of guests holding general admission passes on days predicted to have high attendance. This is in accordance with government guidelines on maximum capacity.
    “We will notify guests as soon as we have a confirmed date to resume operations,” wrote the theme park in an announcement on their website. “We apologize for the inconvenience and will provide refund or exchange for all guests impacted during this period.”

    Featured photo from @realjack_lee
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    Letitia Wright

    Hollywood Studio Projects Get Stricter About COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates
    As the federal government pushes employers to act, producers are increasingly enforcing the requirements: “Nobody wants an Aaron Rodgers situation."

    BY TATIANA SIEGEL, BORYS KIT
    NOVEMBER 10, 2021 6:45AM

    THR ILLUSTRATION / ADOBE STOCK

    As studios debate how to handle COVID-19 vaccine resistance, the Biden administration is moving forward with its own mandates that are pushing Hollywood to toe the line. Though a federal court recently halted vaccine and testing requirements for private businesses with 100 or more employees pending review, the White House said Nov. 8 that the private sector “should not wait.”

    While that case is expected to head to the Supreme Court, a flurry of actors and actresses has quietly pushed back on studio mandates, which increasingly require those in Zone A on a production — where cast and crew work in close proximity — be vaccinated. (Studio sources say some religious exemptions are being given, though they are rare.)

    “We’re really only considering those who are vaccinated,” one prolific producer tells The Hollywood Reporter about COVID requirements for features they’re working on. Another producer, gearing up for a big studio production, concurs: “We will not engage with anyone who is not vaccinated.” But enforcement will be key as studios ensure that workers, from talent to crew, show proof.

    “Nobody wants an Aaron Rodgers situation,” says the studio producer of the NFL star who flouted COVID-19 guidelines before testing positive for the virus. (Rodgers’ fiancee, Shailene Woodley, has not publicly disclosed her vaccination status. She is in production on Showtime’s Three Women. A Showtime rep says the series has a Zone A vaccine mandate, indicating Woodley is vaccinated.)

    In turn, news has leaked of stars exiting projects they had been set to topline. Ice Cube, for one, departed Sony’s comedy Oh Hell No after declining a request from producers to get vaccinated, thus forgoing a $9 million payday. Veteran General Hospital star Ingo Rademacher was let go after not complying with a vaccine mandate.

    Logistical challenges await for studios that are working with stars who haven’t gotten the shot. Disney’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever star Letitia Wright — who portrays the lead Shuri, the sister of Black Panther T’Challa (the late Chadwick Boseman) — is not vaccinated, sources say. After sustaining an on-set injury in August, the Guyanese-born British actress went home to London.

    Now, a return to the U.S. for a possible shoot in Atlanta, where Wakanda Forever is based, could be an issue. On Nov. 8, the CDC implemented rules that require all non-immigrant, non-citizen air travelers to the U.S. be fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination status before boarding a plane. Wright is not a U.S. citizen. Disney declined to comment.

    Wright’s U.K. rep pointed to a statement issued Nov. 5 to THR regarding the actress’ injury, prompting a shutdown of production that will begin the week of Thanksgiving (director Ryan Coogler is said to have filmed everything he can without her). The rep notes: “Letitia has been recovering in London since September from injuries sustained on the set of Black Panther 2 and is looking forward to returning to work early 2022. Letitia kindly asks that you keep her in your prayers.”

    This story first appeared in the Nov. 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
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  11. #341
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    Divisive yoga

    Chakras, crystals and conspiracy theories: how the wellness industry turned its back on Covid science

    Illustration: Posed by model; Guardian Design; We Are; Nora Carol Photography; David Arky/Tetra Images; Rosemary Calvert; Somnuk Krobkum/Getty Images; Emmanuel Lattes/Alamy
    Its gurus increasingly promote vaccine scepticism, conspiracy theories and the myth that ill people have themselves to blame. How did self-care turn so nasty?

    Sirin Kale
    Thu 11 Nov 2021 01.00 EST
    Ozlem Demirboga Carr is not really into all that woo‑woo stuff. “I’m definitely a full-science kind of person,” says the 41-year-old telecoms worker from Reading. She doesn’t believe in crystals, affirmations or salt lamps. But she did find herself unusually anxious during the UK’s Covid lockdown in March 2020 and, like many people, decided to practise yoga as a way to de-stress.

    “I tried to be open-minded and I was open to advice on trying to improve my wellbeing and mental health,” she says. So she followed a range of social media accounts, including the “somatic therapist and biz coach” Phoebe Greenacre, known for her yoga videos, and the “women’s empowerment and spiritual mentor” Kelly Vittengl. The Instagram algorithm did its work. “I suddenly found myself following so many wellness accounts,” she says.

    When the deployment of the Covid vaccine got under way, Carr began to see posts that troubled her, ranging from polite concern about the social consequences of mass vaccination, or the politics underpinning it, to full-blown rejection of the science. “The conversation and tone of their posts shifted,” she says. “At first it was all about self-care and being part of a community that is caring for each other. But then they started to speak more about how there should be a choice when it came to vaccines. They were saying things like: ‘My body, my choice.’”

    Carr watched as Greenacre posted an Instagram story describing vaccine passports as “medical apartheid”. Vittengl went further. In a post in July, Vittengl, who is unvaccinated, compared vaccine passports to the social polarisation witnessed during the Holocaust and spoke about the “mess” caused by the “ideology of the western medical system”. “We aren’t being shown the full picture,” Vittengl concluded, in a post that was liked by Greenacre. Greenacre subsequently invited Vittengl on to her podcast, where Vittengl discussed the pernicious influence of “big pharma” and celebrated the work of the controversial doctor Zach Bush, who has been called a “Covid denialist” by researchers at McGill University in Montreal.

    Such views are anything but exceptional in the wellness community. If anything, they are on the milder end of the spectrum. Anti-vaccine or vaccine-hesitant attitudes are as abundant in online wellness circles as pastel-coloured Instagram infographics and asana poses on the beach at sunset. “People are really confused by what is happening,” says Derek Beres, the co-host of Conspirituality, a podcast about the convergence of conspiracy theories and wellness. “Why is their yoga instructor sharing QAnon hashtags?”

    In May, the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) found that just 12 influencers were responsible for nearly 65% of anti-vaccine content on Facebook and Twitter. “Many of these leading anti-vaxxers are alternative health entrepreneurs … They’re reaching millions of users every day,” says Callum Hood of the CCDH. “This is a serious problem. Vaccine hesitancy has become a difficult and entrenched obstacle to dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.”


    For every saintly Yoga With Adrienne there are thousands of grifters pushing untested therapies on impressionable people. Photograph: rbkomar/Getty Images
    Included within the CCDH’s “disinformation dozen” are Joseph Mercola, a US wellness entrepreneur called the “most influential spreader of Covid-19 misinformation online” by the New York Times; Dr Christiane Northrup, a wellness expert who helped popularise the notorious Covid pseudo-documentary Plandemic by sharing it with her 560,000 Facebook followers; and Kelly Brogan, a contributor to Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop wellness platform. Mikki Willis, the director of Plandemic, is well known in the California yoga scene, while David “Avocado” Wolfe, a conspiracy theorist and raw food advocate, is a regular figure at anti-vaccination protests across the US.

    Away from the CCDH’s list, other prominent figures include the yoga instructor Stephanie Birch, who has posted QAnon hashtags on her now-deleted Instagram account, and Krystal Tini, a wellness influencer with 169,000 Instagram followers, who has consistently posted anti-vaccine content, including one post that compared lockdowns to the horrors inflicted on Polish Jews in the Warsaw ghetto. Comparing vaccine deployment to historic atrocities such as slavery and the Holocaust is a routine trope in anti-vaccine wellness circles; the Los Angeles wellness and beauty guru Shiva Rose recently compared vaccines to McCarthyism, slavery, the Cultural Revolution, the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust, all in one post.

    Beres says many of these wellness influencers are “using cult leader techniques in digital spaces”, sowing fear and hesitancy about the Covid vaccine among their followers, one Instagram post at a time.

    They maintain, however, that they are misunderstood or misrepresented. When contacted by the Guardian, Greenacre distanced herself from Vittengl’s comments on her podcast. “It would be incorrect and misleading to your readers to suggest comments from a third party reflect my own,” she said. She also said that she used the term “medical apartheid” to refer to “the use of discrimination and segregation based on medical status, for example treating people negatively based on their medical status by use of Covid vaccine passports”, rather than anything relating to historical discrimination based on race.

    Vittengl, meanwhile, stated that she is “not against the western medical system … However, I do feel that the industry has been heavily taken over by big pharmaceutical companies who are primarily concerned with finances over health.” She defended the work of Bush. “He is compassionately trying to help find more answers,” she said.

    Carr, however, decided to unfollow both women. Now, when she wants to practise yoga, she watches the Sweaty Betty YouTube channel.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
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    continued from previous post

    We have had more than a decade of the modern iteration of wellness. A decade of vagina candles, chia bowls, coffee enemas and spirulina shots. A decade of burnt-out, anxious, unhappy women seeking to detoxify their bodies, rebalance their chakras and recentre their divine femininity, ideally while losing weight. The global wellness industry is worth about $1.5tn (£1.1tn) – and for every saintly Yoga With Adriene there are thousands of grifters pushing untested therapies on impressionable people.

    Although the modern iteration of wellness rose out of the primordial goop of the late 00s (Paltrow, the high priest of wellness, founded her lifestyle brand in 2008, originally as a newsletter), the origins of the movement go back to the hippy counterculture of the 70s. Then, as now, wellness presented itself as a remedy to the travails of modern life. It was structured around three tenets: robust individualism, distrust of western medicine and a commitment to self-optimisation, usually through restrictive diets and vigorous exercise regimens, designed to stave off disease and death for as long as possible. In her 2018 book Natural Causes: Life, Death and the Illusion of Control, Barbara Ehrenreich wrote: “Wellness is the means to remake oneself into an ever-more perfect self-correcting machine, capable of setting goals and moving toward them with smooth determination.”


    ‘You think: I drink smoothies and go to yoga and work out seven days a week. Why can’t everyone else do it?’ Photograph: Piotr Marcinski/Getty Images/EyeEm
    In the 70s and 80s, Ann Wigmore proselytised the ability of a raw-food diet to cure cancer, diabetes and Aids. “There is this belief that if you stay true to a certain lifestyle and only ingest a particular kind of food and drink, that guards you against disease,” says Carl Cederström, the co-author of Desperately Seeking Self-Improvement: A Year Inside the Optimization Movement. “You create a strong armour around yourself by living healthily.”

    By contrast, western medicine – in particular the pernicious influence of big pharma – conspires to keep the masses sick. “There’s this suspicion about science,” Cederström says. “You often hear the rhetoric that modern civilisation is poisoning our lives, poisoning our food, and we need to find ways of living clean again, by cutting ourselves loose from a society that is constraining us and forcing us to live an inauthentic, unnatural lifestyle.”

    The polluting tributary in wellness’s fresh, clear stream has always been its unwavering insistence that health is a choice rather than something genetically predetermined or socially ordained. Few wellness practitioners say outright that people who are morbidly obese, have type 2 diabetes or have a mental illness suffer by their own hand: they instead couch their judgment in euphemisms and misdirection.

    “Wellness has very strong ties to the self-help movement,” says Cederström. “And what you find at the core of these movements is the idea that you should be able to help yourself.” Rhonda Byrne, the author of the bestselling self-help book The Secret – which portrayed the power of positive thinking as a curative to all of life’s ills – once claimed that the victims of 9/11 were in the wrong place at the wrong time due to their own negative thoughts and outlook on the world.

    “A more general theory as to why people would happily tune into the ideology of wellness, and in particular this individualistic attitude, is that it is in some ways self-flattering,” says Cederström. “We live in a culture that connects morality to health. If you have a good, middle-class life, you’re encouraged to believe that you deserve it. If you’re poor and unhealthy – well, you didn’t work hard enough.”

    For nearly 50 years, the world of wellness has viewed health as something that can be shrugged on or off at will, like a cashmere sweater. Doctors are to be distrusted and individuals should take responsibility for their own “wellness journey”. Then the Covid vaccine programme began – and this anti‑scientific attitude metastasised into something far more harmful. “This is a very long-running thing,” says Hood. “We’re seeing that erosion of trust in mainstream medicine flowering now. And it’s very dangerous.”

    Before Catherine Gabitan, who is 31 and lives in northern California, became an “overcoming self-sabotage” coach, she worked in the service industry. Gabitan usually rose to manager roles easily, but despite the promotions she never felt that she was fulfilling her true potential, as an A-grade student with a college degree.

    She smoked cigarettes, drank coffee and alcohol and ate processed foods. Despite her best efforts, she could never kick these habits. “One of my initial inspirations for becoming really healthy was to make sure I had a really clean body, so that I could be the healthiest vessel I could be in order to have the healthiest baby,” Gabitan says.

    In early 2020, Gabitan bought a $199 lecture series from the self‑sabotage coach Jason Christoff. Christoff, who also styles himself as a nutrition and exercise expert, shares misinformation about the Covid vaccine on his public Facebook page and his Telegram channel.

    When contacted by the Guardian for comment, Christoff responded: “Maybe you should look into who sponsors your own newspaper, but that would get you sacked.” He subsequently wrote a blog linking the Guardian to a plot by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reduce the global population by 10-15%. “Is the Guardian and their sponsors watching out for public health or are they colluding to decrease population and public health, in order to place the remaining population under firm tyrannical control?” Christoff wrote.

    Christoff helped Gabitan to realise that, for years, she had not believed herself to be worthy of “a higher level of health”. She explains: “My subconscious beliefs regarding why I didn’t feel worthy of having a business or learning to invest, or why I drank alcohol or smoked cigarettes – all these things were related to what I felt worthy of achieving.”

    Christoff’s lecture series had the invigorating quality of an ice bath after a sauna. Almost immediately, Gabitan embarked upon what she calls her “health journey”. She quit coffee, smoking, alcohol and gluten. She began exercising three times a week and eating only organic, locally produced food. She also quit the service industry, rebranding as a self-sabotage coach.

    Social media is the wild west when it comes to health claims. You can say whatever you want
    When the Covid vaccine programme began, Gabitan, who is unvaccinated, began sharing anti-vaccine content on her Instagram page. “Injecting poison will never make you healthy,” she posted on 8 July. “We’re taught that ‘germs’ and genetics make us sick so we don’t have to take responsibility for our toxic lifestyles,” she wrote on 23 July. “Could other people’s need to micromanage what we put on or in our bodies be a projection of their poor health history and inability to take responsibility for their own health?” she asked on 16 August.

    Gabitan sees health through a hyperindividualistic moral frame. She takes control of her own health; if other people won’t help themselves, why should she? “I don’t smoke and I don’t drink,” she says. “I spend a lot of money investing in the highest-quality foods available to me. I believe in natural immunity and supporting my immune system. I’ve taken radical responsibility for that, especially over Covid. And there are other people out there who are still drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes who want me to protect their health, but they won’t even protect their own health.”

    In this, Gabitan exhibits the logical fallacy of wellness: the idea that the human mind is a drill sergeant and the organs of our body obediently fall in line. “You may exercise diligently, eat a medically fashionable diet, and still die of a sting from an irritated bee,” Ehrenreich said in Natural Causes. “You may be a slim, toned paragon of wellness, and still a macrophage within your body may decide to throw in its lot with an incipient tumour.”

    Gabitan does not need the vaccine, because she is a shining paragon of health. The people dying from Covid are people with disabilities, or those who are already sick, obese or old. What happens to them is nothing for Gabitan to trouble herself about unduly, as an able-bodied member of the wellness community.

    “A lot of the people that are experiencing hospitalisations from Covid had a lot of other co-morbidities, right?” Gabitan says. “Or they are overweight. If our government had promoted a healthy lifestyle, healthy eating, from the beginning … that would have done a lot more to prevent some of these hospitalisations by actually encouraging people to become the healthiest versions of themselves. Right. So, for me, one premise is people taking responsibility for their own health.”
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  13. #343
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    Continued from previous post


    Some of the people pushing anti-vaccine content ‘believe themselves to be martyrs’, says Derek Beres. Photograph: Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images
    It sounds, I respond, as if you are saying that, when people get sick, it is their fault; not bad luck, because anyone can get sick at any time. “See, I don’t think it’s just bad luck,” she says. “I think part of it is people taking responsibility for their own health, to make sure they’re not putting toxins in their body – and the other part of it is not being exposed to pollution.” Nobody close to her has died from Covid.

    Gabitan also believes the vaccine to be dangerous and ineffective. “The vaccine doesn’t stop transmission,” she says. (The vaccine is thought to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to other people, although this protection wanes with time.) She is concerned about the impact of the vaccine on her fertility – this is a common fear among the vaccine-hesitant and is particularly prevalent in wellness circles, which are mostly female – and doesn’t trust data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US health agency. She prefers to get information about the vaccine from Telegram, the Children’s Health Defense (a group founded by Robert F Kennedy Jr that is a major source of vaccine disinformation) and Project Veritas, a far-right conspiracy theory site.

    As a result of the research she has conducted over the last year, Gabitan’s distrust of medical science now extends beyond the Covid vaccine. If she had children, she would not vaccinate them against any disease. She would reject modern medicine in virtually all cases, excepting broken bones. Modern medicine is “designed to deal with symptoms, not the reason the symptoms showed up in the first place”, she says.

    I ask Gabitan, who is affable and willing to answer all my questions, why she agreed to speak with me, given our dramatically different perspectives on the vaccine. “To have open dialogue, even with people with different opinions, is the only way that we can heal what’s going on in the world,” she says. I tell her that many people would find her attitude selfish and disturbing. “I don’t want to be callous,” Gabitan says. “Because my goal is to help other people live the healthiest life that they can. That’s my passion in the world.”

    I am certain that she believes it.

    Gabitan’s views are by no means a reflection of all wellness practitioners. Deepak Chopra, the famed yoga and meditation expert, has urged people to get vaccinated. “It’s mistaken and unfair to use a fringe group as the tar that stains everyone else,” Chopra wrote in a blog in June. But Gabitan’s attitude is an example, however extreme, of how the ideological structures of wellness may support anti-vaccine attitudes.

    Before Conspirituality’s Beres worked in technology, he was a yoga instructor. “Even though I’ve been involved in the yoga and wellness world since the 90s, I’ve always been sceptical of a lot of the claims,” he says. “When you get into yoga, there are a lot of health claims that sound OK if you’re at a nice yoga studio in a major city, but don’t reflect reality.”

    He sees people like Gabitan as the logical end point of 50 years of telling people that virtue is to be signalled with striated abs and a rippling musculature. “When you live in a country where even a relatively modest middle-class lifestyle is way above what the rest of the world can sustain, it’s very easy to get locked into anecdote and your circle of friends,” Beres says. “You think: I drink smoothies and go to yoga and work out seven days a week and eat organic food. Why can’t everyone else do it?”

    The US – the avocado stone of the global wellness community – is, and always has been, extremely individualistic. “Everything is about personal freedom and personal knowledge. What we see here is late-stage capitalism merging with hyperindividualism,” Beres says.

    The US is also a country without universal healthcare. “If you don’t have insurance, it’s incredibly expensive to get treated,” says Hood of the CCDH. “People develop an interest in looking into alternatives and that’s where wellness influencers step in. You don’t have to spend thousands on doctors. You can just take this supplement or follow this regimen and you will be fine.”

    Finally, it is a country where pharmaceutical companies have long behaved contemptibly. Last month, Purdue Pharma paid $4.5bn to settle its role in the opioid crisis, after overwhelming evidence emerged that the pharmaceutical company played down the addictive qualities of OxyContin for many years. Claims about the pernicious influence of big pharma are de rigueur in anti-vaccine circles; Plandemic’s central thesis is that big pharma is suppressing affordable cures for Covid to make money from patented medicines.
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    continued from previous post

    There is this belief that if you stay true to a certain lifestyle, that guards you against disease
    “One thing alternate health entrepreneurs have in common with anti-vaxxers is that they talk about big pharma a lot,” says Hood. “It’s no coincidence that the organised anti-vaxx movement has its home in the US. Because there’s a greater profit motive in US healthcare, there’s a level of suspicion.” The irony, of course, is that many wellness practitioners are also motivated by profit. “It’s a business for them, but they’re not open about it,” says Beres.

    But to understand why some people may be driven to anti-vaccine attitudes is not to excuse their wider impact on community health, or the distressing implication that they regard the lives of those less fortunate than themselves as having scant value. “Some of the most strikingly nasty stuff I’ve seen with Covid misinformation has come from wellness influencers,” Hood says.

    On the subject of nastiness, he refers to a widely circulated meme (shared this year by the TV presenter Anthea Turner, to outrage) featuring a fat person on a mobility scooter asking a slim person to wear a mask. “The implication is that the person in the mobility scooter is somehow morally deficient and doesn’t have the authority to ask someone to wear a mask,” says Hood. There are similar attitudes where vaccines are concerned. “There is this nasty sense from some anti-vaxxer people that the people who have fallen ill with Covid are somehow deserving of it.”

    Social media companies, for their part, are reluctant to take down disinformation. “Social media is the wild west when it comes to health claims,” says Hood. “You can say whatever you want.” Research in 2020 by the CCDH found that platforms failed to act on 95% of Covid and vaccine misinformation reported to them.

    Wellness influencers – including members of the CCDH’s “disinformation dozen” – remain on social media platforms with a nudge and a wink. Often, they refer users to their Telegram channels, where they really let rip. (Telegram is unmoderated.) While Northrup has had her Instagram account disabled, her Facebook page links to her Telegram channel, in which she deluges 58,000 people with a flow of anti-vaccine disinformation. Likewise, Wolfe exhorts his Facebook fans to follow him on Telegram, where he unleashes.

    Technology companies are slow to take down anti-vaccine content, because it is lucrative. Mercola has 1.7m engaged followers on Facebook; Wolfe an astonishing 11.9m. Outrage fuels engagement, which drives revenue, for the influencer and the social media platform. In March, Mercola joined the newsletter platform Substack – his paid-for subscription costs $5 a month, of which Substack takes 10% as commission. It is already the 11th-most-read paid health newsletter on the platform. (While Substack’s terms of use ban plagiarism, pornography and intellectual property theft, there is no prohibition on disinformation.)

    Some of the people pushing anti-vaccine content do so in the sincere belief they are working for the public good. “They believe themselves to be martyrs,” Beres says. “They’re fully bought in. They think this is an apocalyptic-level battle they were made for, to be the champions.” But Beres believes others “are like: ‘Wow. I can make a bunch of money here.’”

    When wellness influencers start to post anti-vaccine content online, a calcifying effect takes place. Pro-vaccine people unfollow; a few push back in the comments, but ultimately also unfollow, whereas followers who were hesitant about vaccines waver towards anti-vaccine attitudes and committed anti-vaxxers congregate, with applause. Before Gabitan began posting anti-vaccine content on her Instagram account, an average post would get 20-30 likes; now, she can easily get more than 150 likes on a post about big pharma. “The more people get this social reinforcement, the more anti-vaxx they become,” says Hood.

    As a result, anti-vaccine wellness influencers get an influx of followers, many of them new to the community. “What happened after Plandemic is that QAnon infiltrated wellness circles,” says Beres. “Yoga instructors started using QAnon hashtags and watched their following grow by hundreds of thousands.” Online wellness is so closely affiliated with QAnon that the phenomenon has been called “pastel QAnon” by Marc-André Argentino, a researcher at Concordia University in Montreal. Carr is baffled by how QAnon, a rightwing movement, has infiltrated what was historically a hippy, countercultural space. “The similarities between rightwing groups and the wellness community scares me,” she says.

    This dopamine pull of likes and engagement encourages influencers to skew extreme, all the while positioning themselves as victims of so-called cancel culture or online hate mobs. In an Instagram story posted after Vittengl stated her views on vaccination, she portrayed herself as a victim. “The backlash is unbelievable,” she wrote. “As an energetically sensitive person [someone who feels emotions in a heightened way] it can sometimes be too much. But … not speaking up no longer feels like a choice.” She later tells me: “I understand how this may come off as ‘victim mentality’, but it is a very real and very intense phenomenon.”

    Carr finds this narrative maddening. “This community feels like they are being victimised, but they are not victims. They are privileged, well-off people with choices.” Carr is British-Turkish and takes umbrage with how the community co-opts the language of human rights to advocate against vaccines. “That makes me crazy,” says Carr. “To portray vaccines as against human rights ... I come from a country where human rights are constantly being diminished.”

    In the absence of action from the social media giants, all users like Carr can do is unfollow their former gurus. “In a passive way, that’s my solution,” she says. Many more users will no doubt replace them. “If you’re an ordinary person who’s having doubts about the vaccine and you start looking for answers, you’re far more likely to come across an anti-vaxx source than you are an authoritative source like the NHS or CDC,” says Hood. “These are effective and very intentional ways of radicalising people.”

    He hopes that this alignment of the wellness community with anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists will prompt a wider reappraisal of an industry that, for many years, has been replete with charlatans and quacks, profiting from that most fundamental of human desires – a desire for health. “I’m not saying the whole thing is rotten,” Hood says. “But there are broader questions to be asked about wellness and the alternative health industry. This is the end product of telling people they can control their health through willpower and diet. Most of the time, as a society, we don’t think that’s so harmful. But when it comes to the pandemic, it’s quite obvious that it is harmful. Probably the harms were there all the time. But the pandemic has exposed them.”

    This article was amended on 11 November 2021. A previous version said CCDH research found that 95% of social media platforms failed to act on Covid and vaccine misinformation reported to them. In fact, the figure of 95% referred to the percentage of reported misinformation that was not removed by social media companies.
    I'm not seeing such divisions in Tai Chi yet. Are you?

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  15. #345
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    Kung-Fu Grandma

    'It wasn't a ninja move, honestly': TikTok's kung-fu grandma explains her viral reaction to Nelson anti-lockdown march
    The Project 4 days ago

    © The Project Watch: TikTok-famous 'kung-fu grandma' explains her viral ninja stance to Nelson anti-lockdown protesters.
    We've seen a diverse range of protestors out and about recently, but a few days ago a grumpy grandma caught New Zealand's attention for saying enough's enough and taking to the streets with a counter-protest of her own.

    That clip is going nuts on TikTok - so what motivated mysterious Nelson ninja Jan to unflinchingly stand her ground for the sake of public health?

    Speaking to The Project on Friday night, Jan said she had just been out shopping when she tried to cross Trafalgar St at the same time an anti-lockdown march was taking place.

    "They were just there in front of me, coming towards me, and I thought 'well, I'm gonna cross Trafalgar St'. There was a cameraman walking backward towards me, and he said something like, 'you better move lady, they're not going to stop for you'.

    "And I thought, 'actually, let's just give this a try', because I didn't really agree with their sentiments."

    What happened next was pure social media gold. Jan was filmed standing up to the crowd, striking a ninja pose, and then almost immediately being swallowed up by protesters who refused to stop for her.

    "I just stood where I was and the crowd walked past me," she said of what happened next. "It was like a parting… one woman gave me a high-five, which was interesting."

    Jan says her counter-protest came about because she's got friends who are immuno-compromised and those people need to be protected - "so I thought no, I'll make a stand here."

    Slightly disappointingly, Jan concedes the stance she took up was more to do with fears the swarm of protesters would bowl her over, rather than an actual martial arts move.

    "I planked my feet… I did cross my arms. It wasn't a ninja move, honestly… it was rather misinterpreted, I think because they put the kung-fu music over it.

    "But yes it was my point, my statement."
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