Aussie singer faced backlash in directorial debut film

Australian singer-songwriter, Sia, is about to debut on his first produced and directed movie as it faced backlash and sour comments from thousands of netizens and experts.

Her movie ‘Music’ has been widely panned by critics and otherwise concerned viewers, however that hasn’t stopped the masses from hastening to sign a petition to have the film removed from its two 2021 Golden Globe award nominations.

On a launched petition by the Change.org, 60,000 were already amassed by allies of the autism community last week – 50,000 of which came only in the last 24 hours. Related petitions on the website have also garnered substantial support.

This backlash surfaced as Music – starring Best Actress Golden Globe nominee Kate Hudson and Leslie Odom Jr, former Dance Moms star Maddie Ziegler – portrays a non-verbal autistic teenager. Critics take aim primarily with the casting of neurotypical Ziegler, despite the available autistic actors.

Nina Skov Jensen and Rosanna Kataja who were the creators of one of the popular anti-Music petitions wrote, “The fact that Music has been nominated for two Golden Globes awards illustrates the complete disregard the entire entertainment industry has for inclusivity and minority representation. It will only use autism as inspirational porn to make neurotypicals feel good about their supposed ‘superiority’. Despite claiming her movie to be a ‘love letter to caregivers and to the autism community’, she is actually telling the autistic community that she doesn’t care about them.”

They have dubbed Ziegler’s performance as “inaccurate and a hurtful betrayal of the community” noting the stereotypes allegedly incorporated towards the film. It emphasizes the mimicking of autistic people the exact same way autistic people have been bullied and mocked their entire lives. The National Autism Association, moreover, has characterized Ziegler’s performance and Sia’s direction as “dangerous and abusive”.

This particularly notes for the scenes involving restraint and seclusion of Ziegler’s character – forms of control that are known to exacerbate and upset those with autism.

As rejoinder to the backlash, Sia prompted to tweet “sorry” for listening to “the wrong people” during the making of the film – an 180-degree turn from her original stance, which saw the debut filmmaker lash out at one actor with autism who auditioned for the role, suggesting “maybe you’re just a bad actor” for not landing the part.
Further, she has also since pledged to add a disclaimer to her movie, although reports have been mixed as to whether the warning is yet in place.

As per reports, Maddie was not held accountable for the said scuffle but mainly lies the blaim to Sia and other members of the project who did not stop this before it got out of hand.

Package of white powder washed ashore believe to be a hazardous substance

Beachgoers were shook to see an unusual package washed ashore. Ten kilograms of white powder, which is believed to be cocaine, was found on the north Queensland beach.

Beachgoers at Ramsay Bay, Hinchinbrook Island, was sparked by confusion and concern and immediately contacted police on a Sunday upon coming across and discovering a 10-kilogram packages on the shore at the high tide mark.

Currently, the police authorities are awaiting results on the forensic examination of the white powder in determining its substance, yet numerous skeptical and the beachgoers who discovered the package themselves strongly suspected it as cocaine.

Meanwhile, to further add up the matter of the occurrence, investigators are searching the area, and are urging the public with any substantial and helpful information to come forward, as it cites a looming fear the contents of the packages “could become a health risk” should it come to wrong hands.

In line with that, police authorities say more packages of the substance could likely wash up over coming days and finders should not open them. Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Graham Camp said anyone who finds further packages should not open them, but contact police.

“Anyone who was at sea or on the coastline near these locations and saw anything suspicious in the water or other suspicious activity is urged to contact police. It is possible further packages may wash up along the coast due to tidal flows and ocean currents.”

He further noted that the substance could be hazardous for the community, thus urging everyone, especially beachgoers who might come across such packages, to be cautious and contact the police right away.

What could the Facebook ban mean to you?

As a response to the media bargaining code imposed by the Australian government, tech-giant Facebook is blocking Aussie users from reading and sharing news. This shocking move by Facebook comes with Australia poised to adopt legislation that would force digital platforms to pay for news content.

With that, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher stated in an interview that Facebook’s decision to stop Australian publishers and users from sharing or viewing news content sends a strong message about its credibility.

“Facebook needs to think very carefully about what this means for its reputation and standing. They’re effectively saying, on our platform, there will not be any information from organizations which employ paid journalists, which have fact checking processes, editorial policies. They’re effectively saying any information that is available on our site does not come from these reliable sources.”

Thus, what will the block mean to you?

On a brighter note, there’s nothing that can stop you in going directly to the website of an Australian news site to read their content. However, you just won’t see it on Facebook anymore, or be able to share these articles on your timeline to prompt further discussion with friends. That being said, it’s likely you can still send them in direct or group messages on Facebook platforms such as Messenger and WhatsApp.

Should you be outside Australia, you can still post links from international news sources, excluding news from Australia. Even if you share the said content, it still won’t be seen in the country.

Additionally, Australian users won’t be able to post links featuring the URL of any news outlets, while international user are also banned from sharing links with the URL of any Australian news outlets.

The tech-giant is imposing this ban by using machine learning and artificial intelligence to police its site, which includes in performing an early level content moderation. Given that, this isn’t always a perfect system, as Thursday morning’s implementation of the ban has shown.

Among other non-news pages being caught up in the ban include Harvey Norman, the Betoota Advocate, the ACTU and two random biking related pages. This wages aggravation with the page’s owners.

As of now, when contacted by media, Facebook’s local representatives didn’t know why the pages were being caught up in the ban.

Mask mandate for Victoria could be lifted as early as next week

Following the lift stage-four restriction in Victoria, mask-wearing mandate is still at par with many other coronavirus rules. That said, the state government has hinted that the tough mask rules could be lifted as early as next week.

This measure requires Victorian to wear a mask at all times while outside the house, which applies to both indoors and outdoors setting. It was reintroduced at the start of the five-day lockdown last Friday.

Despite the majority of the restriction were eased overnight, masks are still mandatory to be worn indoors and outdoors, albeit where 1.5m social distancing cannot take place.

On a statement by the Health Minister, he revealed that the coronavirus orders were always subject to review and would be looked at again on February 26, saying “At the moment we’re planning to look at (masks) Friday of next week. If circumstances change between now and then, of course, the measures will be changed.”

Moreover, Premier Daniel Andrews emphasized that masks persist to be a major part of the state’s defense. He said, “Masks will be required everywhere indoors except at home, (including) at the supermarket, at the office and at the pub when you’re getting up to pay. Masks will also be required outdoors if you can’t physically distance from others.”

This rule will be set for review on the 26th of February as it is when Mr. Andrews said the last of the positive cases linked to the Holiday Inn outbreak would finish their 14-day incubation period. The Premier added, “Next Friday we’ll be able to be even more definitive about the epidemiological picture across the state, the status of the virus across the state.”

Meanwhile, Jeroen Weimar, Victoria’s COVID response commander said 3400 close contacts would also be completing their 14-day isolation period up until that day. “We are continuing to drive hard at this outbreak to ensure that over the next eight or nine days in particular we not only close off the remaining lines of inquiry but also support the 3400 people who are still in their 14 day isolation period,” he recently announced said.

As of now 19 cases remain as the total number of COVID-19 cases linked to the Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn.

Australian prominent artist found dead at the age of 50

Jason Benjamin, a prominent Australian artist, has been found dead after being reported as a missing person from the south-west NSW town Carrathool over the weekend.

His body was found by the police authorities in the Murrumbidgee River following an extensive a search on the area last Tuesday. The 50-year-old artist was much known for his craft as he has his work exhibited in the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, and the Parliament House Collection and in over 40 solo shows globally.

Additionally, he was an Archibald Prize finalist multiple times and won the Packing Room Prize in 2005 for his painting of late actor Bill Hunter. However, Mr. Benjamin’s best works were evocative pieces of the Australian landscape, ranging from Alice Springs to Broken Hill.

Sydney Gallery Nanda\Hobbs represented Mr. Benjamin and director Ralph Hobbs said it was a tragedy his life and work had been cut short. According to Mr. Hobbs, “I like to call them romantic landscapes; they were always telling stories about things close to him. He felt life very intensely so it wasn’t just about painting trees and skies, it was a layered story of love loss, romance all through these works. When he was in a landscape he wasn’t just creating images of it, he was really feeling what it was to be in this place.”

It was Monday after when Mr. Benjamin was reported missing and was last seen in Carrathool, NSW at around 8pm on the 13th of February. It was understood that he was staying at a nearby campsite.

As per Mr. Hobbs, he’d been traveling through western NSW in preparation for an upcoming exhibition saying, “He was really excited about that, about poems he was working on as well, they were going to be attached to those paintings.”

Going back to his track records, he was born in Melbourne in 1971 and spent his childhood in the USA and Mexico, prior to moving to Sydney for high school.
He received a scholarship to study art at The Stony Brook School and Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, at 16, and he exhibited his first group show in downtown Manhattan in 1989. He returned to Australia in the 1990’s.

Mr Benjamin went on to win the Mosman Art Prizes in 1993, 1994 and 1996 and painted portraits of musicians Paul Kelly and Tim Rogers in Archibald Prize entries. Tim Olsen, Director of Olsen Galleries and son of famed artist John Olsen, was one of the first people to exhibit Mr. Benjamin, and they remained close friends for years.

On an interview, Mr. Rogers pointed out, “It was the sadness and melancholy in his work which was parallel to his own life. He got distracted by the promise of big money and lost his way a bit, but that’s what happens with young talent. Jason didn’t know how to deal with success. It’s an enormous tragedy.”

AFL’s merchandise marketing competition; who has the competitive edge?

Last year, Richmond and Carlton topped on the marketing competition for sold on-field apparel. Both clubs accumulated more than a quarter of the AFL’s sales combines in one of football’s most relevant off-field battlegrounds.

Data released to AFL clubs saw back-to-back premiership Tigers capitalized on their success by accounting for 15.14 per cent of sales for on-field merchandise. This includes jumpers and all match-day apparel from players and coaches. Consequently, the sales placed them at No.1 in the competitions, which is considered likely outcome given their success and the supportive fanbase.

On the other others, the Blues surprisingly placed second on football’s unseen ladder, despite just finishing 11th from the last season and missed the finals. They tallied 11.73 per cent of sales in a huge tick from the club’s growing support base, which last week hit a new membership record.

The major factor affecting the surge of sales is that both clubs are sponsored by Puma, as one of the world’s leading sports brands locking in long-term deals with the Victorian powerhouses.
Prior to the 2017 season, Richmond signed with Puma for a five-year partnership, keeping the relationship with the club through its golden three-flag era. On the other hand, the Blues agreed to a landmark 10-year contract with Puma ahead of 2020. Having the ability to swiftly deliver high quality gear within Australia, the clubs hurdled on positive sentiment ahead of the season and then throughout, including the Tigers’ special premiership jumper following their Grand Final win over Geelong.

Together the clubs combined for a massive 26.87 per cent of merchandise sales in the course of the competition, with West Coast (7.97 per cent) in third position overall, Geelong fourth (7.7 per cent) and Collingwood fifth (7.69 per cent).

Meanwhile, newest clubs Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney, were at the bottom of the list but a surprise was Hawthorn, with two of the smallest membership bases, which placed in third last position with 2.52 per cent of sales.

According to the Pacho Gutstein, general manager of Puma Oceania, “We’re pleased to see Richmond and Carlton leading the charge for on-field sales. It’s testament to the passion of the supporters of these two iconic clubs. We are incredibly proud to partner with both clubs and to welcome GWS to the Puma family for the 2021 season. And while the numbers are good, our motivation comes from working to continually provide the most innovative on-field gear for the clubs, the best service and the most stylish fan wear for their supporters.”

That being said, it was no denying that amid the wreaking havoc of the pandemic to the global economy, there was an off-season changeover among the competition. It particularly impacted clubs who had been tied to ISC, given the fact last year officially withdrew its support of AFL clubs amid the pandemic.

Among the clubs who were still linked with ISC last year but have moved elsewhere with some deals (including the Magpies’ move to Nike) already in the works are Fremantle, Collingwood, Sydney, St Kilda, Port Adelaide, Adelaide, Gold Coast and West Coast.

Meanwhile, the Swans also partnered with Nike, the Dockers joined forces with Burley Sekem and St Kilda and Gold Coast added to New Balance’s imprint with the AFL. Port Adelaide signed with Macron, an international sportswear brand largely associated with European soccer and the Crows are now with O’Neills, who have a base in Adelaide but come from an international background. West Coast crossed to Castore.
There were also major blows to the logistics as delays in shipments have meant the Eagles to train in ISC attire over the pre-season, yet the Castore apparel is expected by the end of this month. On other end Collingwood players have been pictured taping over their old training jumpers as they await the full Nike supplies in the next week. Among other esteemed brands tied to AFL clubs are Adidas (Hawthorn), Under Armour (Essendon), Cotton On (Geelong), ASICS (Western Bulldogs) and Canterbury (North Melbourne).

Sequel to the Economic Support Payment scheme, up for grabs

The latest wave of $250 coronavirus payments are now set for grabs in early March. In much brighter note, this scheme will cater up to five million Australians as the government’s economic lifelines complete their final stages.

Mainly dubbed as the part two of the “Economic Support Payment”, these will go straight into eligible receiver’s bank account. The first wave of this scheme was first delivered in December 2020.
This time, Aussies must make sure to be eligible by February 26 in order to benefit from this measure.

Provided that this is a sequel to the Economic Support Payment, an extra cash injection is allocated to support those badly affected by the coronavirus restrictions amounting to $250.
It is part of a $500 per eligible person package, the first $250 of which was delivered to recipients in December 2020. Should you be eligible for the payment, you should start to see the payment in your account from March 1, 2021.

Who, though, it eligible to receive and enjoy this enjoy?

Worry not, since the eligibility requirement is actually simple: Are you living in Australia? Are you getting an eligible payment or concession card as of February 26, 2021?
If your answers to those questions are YES, then you are eligible. More importantly, you won’t receive it if you are being paid the coronavirus supplement.

Essentially, you’ll receive the payment if you also get any among Age Pension, Carer Allowance, Carer Payment, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, Disability Support Pension, Double Orphan Pension, Family Tax Benefit and Pensioner Concession Card.

If you find yourself eligible, there will be no further measures and actions to be taken, government will pay it directly to your bank account.For those hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card, this is particularly a good time to jump onto Centrelink’s website and confirm your bank details are correct.

Australian Open organizers, hoping for a crowd by Semi Finals

For the final four days of the Australian Open tournament, which will be on Thursday, the organizers are hopeful that crowds will be able to return to Melbourne Park.

Provided that fact that under the restrictions of the five-day circuit breaker lockdown, Victorians are only allowed to leave their homes for four reasons: shopping for essentials, giving care, essential work and education, and exercise for two hours per day with household members, an intimate partner or one other person only. Thus, execrators and supporters to crowd the games of the Australian Open are strictly prohibited up to date.

Prior to the lockdown, crowds at Melbourne Park were only at 50 per cent crowd capacity. Given that the crowd is a major factor to boost the atmosphere of the event, the organizers use fake crowd noise across the venue, to somehow lessen the dullness and to help the players alleviate their adrenaline.

There were concerns at the Australian Open recently when Greek player Michail Pervolarakis tested positive overseas, days after he played in the ATP cup event in Melbourne. He has since left Australia.
That said, health officials explained there is no concern for Greek teammates Stefanos Tsitsipas or anybody else at the tournament, as they believe he contracted that virus once he left Melbourne.
In line the current measures that are involved with the snap lockdown, the full list of exposure sites are made public.

The following are Yarra Trams No. 11 on February 11, 7:55am – 8:10am between Harbour Esplanade and William Street and Yarra Trams No. 58 on February 11, 8.10am – 8:25am between Bourke Street/William Street and Queen Victoria Market/Peel Street.

Also adding to the list is Queen Victoria Market, Queen Street Melbourne, 8:25am – 10:10am Section 2 – Fruit and Vegetables, and used Section 2 – Female toilet, Yarra Trams No. 58 on February 11, 9:40am – 9:55am between Queen Victoria Market/Peel Street and Bourke Street/William Street and Elite Swimming, Pascoe Vale on February 8, between 5pm and 6pm.

Lastly, Woolworths inside Broadmeadows Central in Broadmeadows on February 9, between 12.15pm and 12.30pm, Bonbons Bakery, Broadmeadows Central on February 9 between 12.30pm and 12.45pm, and Oak Park Sports and Aquatic Centre, Pascoe Vale on February 9 between 4pm and 7.30pm.

The community is being urged to adhere on the prevailing measure and to be on the loop for updates.

Crown Resorts fallout; here is what you need to know

The NSW inquiry into Crown Resorts’ fallout escalates as another key director stepping down. This was after the regulator said the company was not suitable to hold a license for the casino in line with its $2.2 billion Sydney Barangaroo complex.

Upon damning NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority report, Crown director Andrew Demetriou resigned from the company’s board. The issue prompted a mass culling of senior figures within the gaming giant.

Not only that, the report also mounted calls for chief executive Ken Barton’s resignation, which found Crown had allowed illegal money laundering in both its Melbourne and Perth venues.

On a released statement, Crown explained that Mr. Barton had not quit despite reports he had handed his resignation to chair Helen Coonan on Thursday. It reads, “Crown and Mr. Barton are continuing to consider his position having regard to the recommendations and findings of the commissioner’s report of the inquiry.”

In opposition, there was a great deal of corporate “arrogance” from the Crown board and senior management, which actively turned a blind eye to organized crime operating within its venues, according to Commissioner Patricia Bergin’s findings.

After Ms. Bergin’s report, both Mr. Barton and Mr. Demetriou have been heavily criticized by NSW and Victorian regulators.

On defense, the former AFL boss Mr. Demetriou said in a statement the comments directed at him were an unfair representation of his character. “I have always been a team player and supported the greater good. I will therefore step down from the Crown Resorts board to give Crown the best possible chance of becoming suitable to the NSW regulator. In taking this decision, I believe the comments directed at me in the report are unfair and unjust, and I will defend my reputation at every opportunity.”

In contrary, Ms. Bergin said Mr. Demetriou’s time in the witness box when reading directly from notes was “quite bizarre” in her findings. As the report reads “It is inexplicable why Mr Demetriou did not accept the proposition that was put to him that a finding could be made, rather neutrally, that he was trying to assist by being accurate. But he persisted with his version of events that clearly cannot be accepted.”
“Unfortunately it reflects very badly on his judgment first of all to take notes into the witness box (albeit in a virtual setting), then to read from them, but more importantly to deny that he was reading from them,” she added.

It was Wednesday when Crown announced the shocking resignation of James Packer’s main Consolidated Press Holdings lieutenants Guy Jalland and Michael Johnston. They were appointed to the board as nominees to represent the 36 per cent stake held by the billionaire’s private company.

Shortly, that same afternoon, Crown announced the termination of director John Poynton’s consultancy arrangement with. This means he will no longer be a nominee on the Crown board.