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Since the conflict broke out in 2015, life for children in Yemen, has been a living hell. Around 2 million children under the age of 5 are suffering from acute malnutrition. To put these numbers into perspective, that is the entirety of Perth’s population.

10.3 million brittle boys and girls don’t have enough food to eat, and half of Yemeni children under the age of 5 are chronically malnourished. Chronic malnutrition has an incredibly important impact on a child’s development. So, the 50 per cent of Yemeni children who are chronically malnourished, will never develop their full intellectual potential.

Whilst these statistics are disturbing to us readers, you can only imagine how frightful, how soul-crushing, how helpless, it must feel to be the mother of a Yemeni child.

These kids have been deprived of their childhoods and a hopeful future. And, the dark reality is, this has worsened due to COVID-19 as they are confined to remnants of their war-torn homes.

The damage and closure of schools has disrupted the children’s access to education. Before COVID-19, 2 million children were out of school. Now, because of the pandemic, the latest statistics from UNICEF have found an additional 5 million children are out of school.

Sadly, the education of these children is the smallest of their problems. Five years of war has exhausted the country’s health system. Many of Yemen’s medical facilities have been destroyed and the country is inadequate to cope with a pandemic.

Alongside a lack of medicine, equipment, and medics, coronavirus has essentially caused Yemen’s health system to collapse.

As the pandemic ravages through the country, the Yemeni people have reached breaking point.

Poverty levels are deepening and putting financial strain on families. The United Nations (U.N) have reported that parents of these fragile children are now resorting to “harmful coping mechanisms,” like begging, child labor, and marrying off their young daughters to survive.

Young Yemeni girls, if weren’t already, are now the most vulnerable, frail, and helpless they’ve ever been.

Worldwide, around 12 million girls under the age of 18 are estimated to be married off every year. That works out to be nearly one girl every three seconds.

Already seen to be happening in Yemen, a recent U.N report predicts the pandemic has put an additional 4 million girls at risk of child marriage.

And, when you think the horrendous conditions for these innocent girls couldn’t get any worse, they do.

86% of mothers in Yemen believe that female gentile mutilation is a purifying and cleansing practice and is closely tied with their religious and cultural beliefs. With almost every health care facility closing and the ones that are still open being overpopulated by coronavirus and war-stricken victims, the infection rate, as a direct result of this practice, on these baby girls, is expected to sky-rocket.

The U.N appealed to the international community $2.4 billion to help the suffering of the Yemen people who are being hit harder than any other civilians in the world by the pandemic. On June 2, manly Arab and Western countries pledged $1.35 billion toward aid. This is far less than what is needed to give these people a chance at survival.

Yemen is in the middle of a war, suffering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and the coronavirus is sucking the breath and freedom out of the life of malnourished children who don’t have the choice or immune system to fight it.

These conditions are gut-wrenching.

The suffering of these girls and boys is nothing short of devastating.

And, it is worsening with every minute that passes.

If you would like to donate directly to help save the lives of these kids, please do so here https://support.savethechildren.org/site/Donation2?df_id=2521&2521.donation=form1

The mentally draining clutches of COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 meant that discussions surrounding mental health became universally more pervasive and de-stigmatised. However, as society begins to enter a more COVID-normal life in 2022, it is important that we continue to prioritise their mental health the same way we have had to for the past two years – and this is how.

For many, a new year means new resolutions, new goals, and a seemingly fresh start. Essentially, to use the age-old phrase, many approach January with a mentality of “new year, new me”. This isn’t an inherently damaging ideal. However, these new goals are often centred around the same aspects of life: starting the gym, eating clean or starting a diet, cutting out alcohol, managing finances or losing weight. Evidently, a survey demonstrated that 78% of Australians have set financial goals as their new year’s resolution, 30% have pledged to change eating habits and exercise more, and a further 28% have made resolutions to lose weight.

Conversely, only 8% of Australians made resolutions that prioritised their mental health, like meditation and practicing mindfulness – a significantly lower percentile than that relating to physical and financial goals.

Although 2020 and 2021 brought an emotional whirlwind of lockdowns, confusing vaccine rollouts and a seemingly never ending pandemic cloud floating over our heads, discussions surrounding mental health are more public than ever, with public health officers, professional athletes, celebrities and children collectively trying to break the stigma surrounding mental health – reiterating that it is okay to struggle. After all, 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental health disorder in any given year.

Despite the renewed sense of optimism of 2022, with the promise of no more lengthy lockdowns and drawn-out restrictions – the pandemic is still upon us, and it is likely that many individuals still feel the weight of that on their mental health, despite being back to their “COVID-normal” busy schedules. Here are three ways – or belated resolutions – that will help you keep your mental health as a priority this year.

Lead with compassion rather than criticism

Compassion and self-compassion are some of the greatest ways to be kind to yourself, and in doing so, putting your mental health first. Broadly, being self-compassionate involves acknowledging negative emotions, mistakes and faults with kindness, rather than with criticism and judgement. Essentially, it can be separated into three components: self-kindness, common humanity – in the acknowledgement that suffering and failure are a universal experience – and mindfulness.

Research has shown that individuals who practice self-compassion have a direct correlation with lower levels of mental health symptoms, whereas lower levels of self-compassion resulted in higher levels of psychopathy. Moreover, it has been evidenced by a myriad of studies that self-compassion can have a wide scope of positive results as an extension of improved mental health: increased motivation, happiness, improved body image, enhances self-worth and fosters resilience.

One strategy to increase your self-compassion this year, is implementing self-love affirmations into your daily routines. Whether you have one affirmation that you tell yourself each morning, or a different one for different days, having a few phrases or mantras to counter negative thoughts is a good way to introduce the idea self-compassion into your life and in doing so, make your mental health a priority.

Narrow your focus and “just be”

When there are so many different factors that influence health and wellbeing, it is less overwhelming to focus on just a couple of those. Lisa Henderson, professional counsellor and mental health service provider, spoke to Forbes Health about her focus on “meaning making” to prioritise her mental health. She notes that it is easy to get consumed and overwhelmed by busy work, and in doing so lacking productivity, impact, and progress.

She notes that when she takes a step back, breathes deeply and prioritises the work that lead to the most impact and productivity – despite how busy it might make her, she feels fulfilled.

The New York Times reflected on this concept in May 2021, referring to this meaningful and impactful living as “flourishing”. After “languishing” was used to define the universal sense stagnation people were feeling during the pandemic, the term “flourishing” began to emerge as the opposite – a contentment and fulfilment with life that everyone hopes to achieve.

As part of one’s journey to flourishing, finding a sense of meaning and purpose among life’s busy tasks is a key strategy. In line with Henderson’s perspective, reframing the way you think about your busy schedule can improve the level of satisfaction and meaning associated with completing work. Some ways to do this include deepening workplace relationships and reminding yourself about what your job does to help others.

By changing the way you think about your tasks, you can alter the way they make you feel and in turn, help elevate your mental health – without trying to find a spare hour in your busy schedule to practice mindfulness, meditation or exercise.

Know that you’re not alone

Many individuals who are struggling with mental health, are known to suppress these emotions and attempt to carry on with their lives as normal – despite their potentially reduced capacity to operate effectively. Professionals note that this can often lead to other ways of coping that are unhealthier – like alcohol or drug abuse, emotional eating or shopping.

As mentioned above, 1 in 5 Australians are said to experience a mental health disorder in any given year. This statistic demonstrates that even though you may feel like it – you are not the only one suffering from poor mental health and talking openly about it is not something to be ashamed of.

One way to reinforce this in your lives is to speak openly about your struggles to loved ones – so that it is not something you feel as though you must hide. By letting your family and friends know that you are having a hard time, it relieves some of the pressure to be performing at your best and gives you time to seek help. As mental health issues become more de-stigmatised, many workplaces are also vouching for the normalisation and acceptance of “mental health days”, so as to relieve the shame attached to taking time for oneself and prioritising mental health.

If one good thing can be taken from our collective suffering in 2020 and 2021, it is the open discussions and focus on individual’s mental health – and a greater understanding of the amount of people who struggle with mental disorders. Whether our lives continue to be consumed by lockdowns and a pandemic or not, the need to protect our mental health will never be diminished, and by implementing some of these strategies and outlooks outlined here – regardless of if you think you need it – your mental health will thank you.

As always, if you feel as though you need to reach out for help, there are a number of services at your disposal:

Lifeline
24 hour telephone counselling service. Phone: 13 11 14 or Text: 0477 13 11 14 6pm – midnight AEST
www.lifeline.org.au/(link is external)

Kids Help Line
Confidential and anonymous, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25. Phone: 1800 55 18 00
www.kidshelp.com.au/(link is external)

Beyond Blue Support Service – Support. Advice. Action
Information and referral to relevant services for depression and anxiety related matters. Phone: 1300 22 46 36
www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support(link is external)

Butterfly Foundation
Butterfly provides support for Australians who suffer from eating disorders and negative body image issues and their carers. Phone: 1800 33 4673
thebutterflyfoundation.org.au/(link is external)

 

From Kim Kardashian to Meghan Fox, to Adele, flourishing female celebrity divorcees have generated a ‘chicness’ around the notion of divorce – reframing it as an opportunity for reinvention rather than desperation.

In an effort to escape stories of new Coronavirus strains, lockdowns and the general impending doom that has saturated the news cycle – many became drawn to the sugary celebrity gossip that 2021 had to offer. At the forefront of this, has been the narrative of celebrity divorce and the reinvention of female divorcees in the eyes of the public.

Every year brings the downfall of several A-list relationships, but during 2021, it seemed there had been more celebrity couples at the clutches of divorce than ever. Household names like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, Bill and Melinda Gates, Elon Musk and Grimes, Meghan Fox, Kourtney Kardashian, Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde, and of course Adele, all flourishing in the media limelight in the wake of their divorces.

However, it seems as though celebrities aren’t the only ones who went down the divorce route in 2021 – the stress of the pandemic and the clutches of lockdown presumably an influencing factor. Statistics have demonstrated that there was a 31% decrease in Australian marriages in 2020, and a 314% increase in couples thinking about separating due to lockdown – with another 4.1% increase in Australian divorce rates for 2021.

Although the acrimonious nature of divorce is not something to be wholly celebrated, with the saddening act of separating a family and dismantling a marriage remaining a tumultuous process, the rise of divorce – namely celebrity divorce – has begun to normalise the fact that separation can ultimately be a healthy thing, reframing the narrative from one of desperation and pity – particularly for women – to an opportunity for healing, growth, and reinvention.

This “Big Divorce Energy” made a resurgence in 2021, due to the myriad of celebrities who have faced the public in the months after a separation with an air of self-assurance, confidence, happiness, and sometimes even a Princess Diana-esque revenge outfit.

Kim Kardashian

The first of these celebs who have encapsulated “big divorce energy” has been pop-culture icon Kim Kardashian, who, after filing for divorce in February 2021, took to her trademark stomping ground, Instagram, with a new glow of confidence and contentment. Being her third divorce after previous separations from Kris Humphries in 2013, and Damon Thomas in 2003, Kim has demonstrated that she isn’t fazed by the sense of shame that traditionally ensconces divorce – let alone multiple divorces – but rather embraces the authority, self-assurance, and peace that it can ultimately bring.

Moreover, her rumoured new romance with comedian, SNL star and ‘serial boyfriend’ Pete Davidson – described as the epitome of a “manic pixie dream boyfriend” – further symbolises Kim’s desire for contentment, freshness and, most importantly, fun in her post-divorce era.

Meghan Fox

Another female celebrity that has thrived in the wake of divorce, is Meghan Fox. Although being separated from her former husband Brian Austin Green since 2019, she officially filed for divorce in November 2020. However, 2021 was when the public actually began to notice Fox’s “big divorce energy”, further exacerbated by the media attention on her impassioned relationship with rapper Machine Gun Kelly – or rather, her “twin flame” as she claims. Not only does Fox seem happier in her post-divorce whirlwind relationship with Kelly, but the relationship plays into this subversion of the divorce narrative that has placed many famous men in a position stereotypically reserved for women – seeing their partners move on with someone younger post-divorce in a very public way.

As we saw with Kardashian and Davidson and Fox and Kelly, there have been an increasing number of female celebrities who have sprung out of divorces into the arms of a younger man. Some of these include Kourtney Kardashian, who after her on-and-off marriage with Scott Disick, has settled down into a very public, very passionate relationship and engagement with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, and Olivia Wilde, who following her divorce from Jason Sudekis has been touring the USA with her new boyfriend Harry Styles. Whether these pairings are indeed rebounds, or true love, it is refreshing for many to see so many high-profile women owning their post-divorce relationship choices with pride, showing that after the draining process of divorce – a bit of youthful happiness and pleasure is still a valid and supported option.

 

Adele

Finally, another female divorcee that has – by the judgement of the public eye – thrived in 2021, is Adele. After going somewhat underground since her album 25, society re-entered an Adele renaissance in the lead up to the release of her 30, her most recent album, that was released on November 19th, 2021. After the public termination of her two-year marriage to producer Simon Konecki, 30 reflects on Adele’s experience during and post-divorce, and illustrates how it sparked a journey of self-discovery.

In her words, the album is completely centric on the ins and outs of “Divorce, babe, divorce.” By choosing to utilise her divorce as the overarching theme for the album, paired with Adele’s significant pop-cultural influence, the pop star aided in both normalising divorce at a younger age, and showing that despite the initial anxiety and sadness associated with the legal separation, it can ultimately be a chance to move forward, find yourself and achieve personal contentment.

https://twitter.com/queenadelesIays/status/1476938459277402112

This widespread support and admiration for these divorcees who show that happiness, not loneliness, can be the outcome of a relationship breakdown, exemplifies that divorce doesn’t have to be a sad account of a woman’s life falling to shambles. In our increasingly modern era where the concepts of relationships, marriage and monogamy are ever evolving, it is refreshing and potentially helpful to see that maybe divorce isn’t the patriarchal stereotype it has always been framed to be.

Over 45% of parents feel the effects of parental burnout. The crippling exhaustion, overwhelming stress, and the feeling that everything is just a bit too hard, is a shared experience with nearly half of all parents. Here is what you need to know about this common phenomenon – and the steps to take to feel like yourself again.

Many parents have come to realise that having children is exhausting… And even more exhausting when a pandemic, working from home and recurring lockdowns are thrown into the mix. The overwhelming feelings of stress and exhaustion associated with trying to juggle both life itself and the lives of their children too, can sometimes feel like a bit too much to handle. If you, as a parent, felt this too, don’t worry – you are definitely not alone.

It’s important to realise that these feelings are completely valid and parental burnout is more than just general tiredness or irritability. If left unmanaged, the all-consuming sensations of burnout can have significant consequences on not only parents’ mental health, but the sense of equilibrium within the family itself.

The first diagnoses of parental burnout dates back to 1983, but more extensive research was carried out in 2017, by Belgium researchers Dr Isabelle Roskam and Dr Moïra Mikolajczak – who really delved into the prevalence of parental burnout, especially in the 21st century.

They found that since previous studies, society has placed more pressure on families to raise high-performing, healthy and stable children – as well as a shift in gender norms – especially during COVID – which has generated an increase in more working mothers, and less who stay-at-home full time. These subtle changes can make the act of parenting more difficult and stressful and thus, emerges the patterns of parental burnout.

Beyond the initial feelings of exhaustion, parental burnout can also manifest in:

If these symptoms are left untreated for too long, the damage to parents’ mental health, hormones and relationships with both partners and children, can be significant. Research has found that parents who experience parental burnout, are likely to be more coercive or neglectful towards their children – despite the initial burnout often resulting from putting too much time and energy into your children and neglecting your own needs.

Other common factors that can lead to the development of parental burnout are:

For parents experiencing this level of burnout – despite how difficult it may seem – there are several ways that this burnout can be alleviated. Here are some common and scientifically proven ways that parental burnout can be reduced:

  • Establish a routine: by creating a set schedule within the family that allows time for everyone’s respective activities and obligations – as well as carving out time to be together as a family – parents can set boundaries between work and home and lessen the expectation to be doing everything at once.
  • Communicate your feelings: whether it is with a partner or a friend, telling someone how you are feeling is the first step to treating parental burnout. As this condition is often provoked by bottling up stress and exhaustion, the first way to fix this is to let someone know you need support.
  • Go to a support group: support groups for parents are a great way to feel like you’re not alone. By talking to other parents who may be sharing the same struggles, feelings of isolation that may be contributing to the burnout can be alleviated.
  • Exercise: it’s a well-known fact that moving your body releases endorphins and, for many, provides an outlet where you can release pent up stress. This doesn’t have to mean killing your body in the gym six days a week. If you are starting to feel stressed or overwhelmed, even a ten-minute walk or stretch can help release the feel-good hormones to make you feel more relaxed.
  • Consult a therapist: regardless of if you think you don’t need it – everyone can benefit in some way from talking to someone professional about your everyday problems, or perhaps past trauma that has led to burnout. There is no shame in getting help, and if you feel you need to talk to someone, a psychologist may be able to provide the informed guidance that you need.

The chance of developing parental burnout doesn’t go away as your kids grow up. As parents, it is likely that you will always put their needs above your own at points in time. But it is the acknowledgement that you are struggling, communication that you need help, and the seeking out of support that will help you on your journey to feel like yourself again.

 

 

 

 

Lockdown can be a difficult time for many. Ordering out may be a quick and easy option to keep the children content. However, this zucchini slice may be what’s needed to keep the kids healthy and happy.

Toddlers Ariana and Sophia love any chance to make the kitchen dirty. Their mum decided to help them achieve this goal by having them assist her in cooking a healthy snack.

This zucchini slice has become a much-loved family meal and allows the girls to have plenty to do during lockdown.

Instead of causing trouble in other areas of the house, Ariana and Sophia are given the opportunity to be distracted in the kitchen.

“It’s a good distraction for them and me during lockdown. It gives us plenty to do and often keeps them quiet and happy,” their mother Natalie Fittock says.

Ariana loves cracking each egg into the bowl whilst her sister Sophia mixes the ingredients on the floor, the clean floor that is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both girls love assisting their mum in the cooking process and in return are treated to a “yummy” snack.

“Yummy,” three-year-old Ariana says. “Love zucchini slice!”

“Mmmmm,” one-year-old Sophia says.

Once the girls smell the delicious slice heating in the oven, they camp themselves in front of its warmth to watch the cooking process.

“It’s a nice bonding experience for both of the girls,” Natalie says.

The recipe, originally taken from Women’s Weekly has been modified to suit this young family’s needs, adding a carrot to the recipe and replacing normal self-raising flour with wholegrain self-raising flour.

“I use it (wholegrain flour) because it has more fibre in it and it’s less processed,” Natalie says. “It makes sense. It’s not just a nice snack for the immediate family, but great for the whole extended family.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 375 grams of finely grated zucchini
  • 1 finely grated carrot
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 3 finely chopped bacon rashers
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 1 cup whole grain self-raising flour
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 5 eggs
  • Salt and Pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (160 fan forced)
  2. Combine zucchini, carrot, onion, bacon, cheese, sifted flour, oil and lightly beaten eggs and season with salt and pepper
  3. Pour into a well-greased pan
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes
  5. Cut into squares and serve to hungry children

Aliens, reptilians, royals, and clowns, what is scarier? Or, should the question be, what is more believable? We travel down the conspiracy rabbit hole to investigate the top 10 theories that have circulated throughout the world.

Conspiracy theories question the possibility of extra-terrestrials, government cover-ups and otherworldly beings more capable than we ever thought possible. Are these just fictitious speculations or are they more grounded in reality than we would believe?

ConHere are the top 10 conspiracy theories.

  1. Moon Landing

The moon landing was faked.  In 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin allegedly took the first giant mankind leaps onto the Moon. People in the United States thought this to be all a hoax, with a survey in 1970 concluding that 30 per cent of the population believed the moon landing to have been faked.

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The theory is that Stanley Kubrick, who directed classics such as The Shining, filmed the moon landing on a sound stage in London. This was all part of an elaborate plan by the United States government to reach the moon before the Soviet Union.

One point of the theory states that the flag planted into the Moon’s surface was flapping in the wind. However, the moon doesn’t have an atmosphere, therefore there is no wind. NASA and other “untrustworthy sources” have explained just how this flapping occurred. The American’s didn’t want a limp looking flag, which is what the flag would have done if stood in the ground. They, therefore, installed an extendable metal pole on the longer edge of the flag to hold it straight. Aldrin and Armstrong, however, couldn’t fully extend the pole and it appeared to be waving.

Today the number of deniers has decreased, but it stills stands at a significant 10 per cent of the population.

  1. The CIA killed JFK
Photo by History in HD on Unsplash

It has long been believed that the man behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy was Lee Harvey Oswald as he had been the only known person to be in the building that overlooked the drive where the president was killed and was the owner of the alleged murder weapon. But before police could question him further, he was suspiciously killed by nightclub owner Jack Ruby. So, when the Warren commission, instated by Lindon B Johnson, concluded that Oswald had killed the President people were not convinced.

Theories quickly began to circulate the globe, with 61 per cent of Americans believing that others were assisting in the event.

Theories spoke of a suspicious umbrella man, the mob, a second shooter on the grassy knoll and that Ted Cruz’s father played a part in the assassination.

Donald Trump discussed the last theory during his 2016 presidential campaign. The theory that stuck throughout the years is that the CIA was involved in Kennedy’s death. It’s theorised that the CIA was frustrated with the way Kennedy was handling the war on communism. This caused anti-Communist and anti-Cuba CIA agents to turn rogue to kill him in an attempt to maintain tension with the Soviet Union and Cuba. There are reports that Kennedy was planning on pulling out of Vietnam and work on ending the Cold War. This further confirms the suspicions that agents within the CIA would have found this undesirable and thought it to be a traitorous move.

  1. Qanon

The blood of young children allows the elites to maintain their health. These elites have formed a global deep state satanic paedophile ring that goes as high as the American Government. This is what Qanon supporters believe.

It started online, where Q, an anonymous 4chan user began to spread his theories on the worlds political environment. One of the first theories to spread online is known today as Pizzagate. This theory states that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of a pizza joint in Washington. This led to an armed man travelling across the US to stop the operation. When he arrived, however, he did not discover any evidence of a child sex ring.

Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

Today, the theory that has immersed itself into the heart of Qanon members is that of cannibalistic celebrities and politicians. According to QAnon, the US government is a satanic cult and people like Ellen DeGeneres, Barrack Obama, Tom Hanks and Hillary Clinton are not only paedophiles, but they drink the blood of children to maintain their healthy lifestyles.

In the past two years, they have begun to disprove the COVID pandemic, stating that it was a hoax to damage President Trump’s chance at re-election. Australia is also home to a large Qanon following, with many protesting the COVID lockdowns adhering to Qanon core beliefs.

Since 2016, when Qanon gained traction online, a large following around the world began to develop. Earlier this year, the group sieged the US capital and it was found that 56 per cent of Republicans in the US followed Qanon.

  1. This is all a Simulation

The phrase, “There’s a glitch in the Matrix,” is often thrown around when a coincidence occurs. Such as two people wearing the same outfit to work. This is related to an idea raised by philosopher Nick Bostrom that reality as we know it, is all a simulation. He has five assumptions:

The first assumption is that it is possible to generate consciousness. This means that our consciousness has been created and is now controlled by others. The second is that technology will continue to advance and that there may be a civilisation in the universe already capable of creating a simulation where we can prosper. The third assumption is that advanced civilisations do not destroy themselves.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Now, we see no other civilisations in our universe because they have not passed the Great Filters, such as climate change, nuclear destruction, and a black hole. However, what if this advanced civilisation has removed themselves from the simulation to make us believe that all societies including their own have been destroyed by these great filters? We would then believe that we are alone in the universe with no one else to create this simulation for us, thus we do not believe we are simulated.

The fourth assists this theory, as super-advanced civilisations would want to and could run a simulation. Advanced civilisations could be using us for their comical efforts, how else would you explain reality TV? Or they could even be using us scientifically. It could be possible that these god-like aliens treat us the same way we treat ants.

Assumption five advises that if there are many simulations out there, there is a possibility that we are in one of them. These god-like aliens could be running multiple simulations; which further proves the third assumption, in which they would want us to think that they have been destroyed to show that there is no simulation.

  1. Modern Art Shows are a front for money laundering

This interesting Reddit theory questions every modern art show that occurs, stating that every show is a front for money laundering schemes. It’s no lie, that modern art is… interesting. So, it makes a lot of sense when people believe that art shows allow people to make purchases to convert their illegal money into art.

This theory has been proven true. In 2007, a Brazilian banker was found to have converted his illegal makings

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

into a 12,000-piece art collection. He was caught when an $8 million artwork was discovered at a New York City airport. Authorities uncovering later that this artwork was one of the thousands being sold to hide profits and assets attained illegally.

Even though this has been proven to occur, the theory states that all modern art shows are money laundering fronts, not just the rare few.

 

  1. Area 51 and the number of theories

We have all heard of Area 51. The army base is home to UFO’s and aliens. In recent years, however, Area 51 has been uncovered to be a secret army base, where the US test new technology and weapons. Boring.

One Reddit theory has suggested that the American government allowed the population to believe that this was an “alien base” as a diversion from the real location or locations. That’s right. There is another location or

Photo by Bruce Warrington on Unsplash

multiple locations out there where aliens run free. Even though quite a few people believe that the hype around alien existence was a distraction from what really occurred at the base. The idea that there are multiple locations out there truly studying the world of extra-terrestrial lifestyles is fascinating, to say the least. One Reddit user states that Area 51 is a decoy and Area 52 is the real thing.

Another theory states that a Nazi doctor enlarged the heads of abducted teenagers.

The doctor, ordered by Joseph Stalin to cause Cold War terror, medically enlarged teenager’s heads in an effort to have them fly UFOs over America. You can’t deny that they failed in their attempts though, as the teenagers would later crash the UFO in what is now known as the Roswell incident.

  1. Jack the Ripper was a royal

The most infamous serial killer to have ever roamed a city’s streets, Jack the Ripper was indeed a royal. There are many theories on the identity of Jack the Ripper. To many, he is still shrouded in anonymity, however, some believe he was Prince Albert Edward Victor.

Photo by Roberto Catarinicchia on Unsplash

A physician in the 1970’s concluded that Prince Albert was suffering from insanity caused by syphilis. The theory states that the prince contracted the disease through multiple visits to local brothels. After contracting syphilis, he became enraged with revenge and brutally murdered prostitutes in the streets of London.

Another theory is that the prince began a love affair with a commoner, eventually having a daughter. However, the royals were unhappy with the idea of a commoner becoming heir to the throne. So, they ordered agents to kill whoever may have known about the suspected affair and it wasn’t long after the bodies of prostitutes began to appear across London. It may not be as exciting as a Royal himself committing the murders, but it is still controversial.

So, was the grandchild of Queen Victoria and second in line to the throne a grizzly murderer? Just imagine, if he hadn’t died at the young age of 27 from Tuberculosis, Jack the Ripper could have been King. 

  1. Killer Clown pandemic in 2016 was one huge advertisement for the movie IT

Remember 2016? No Covid, no lockdowns, just clowns.

Before the current pandemic, there was a pandemic of another kind. Hundreds of “Killer Clowns” were sited across the globe. In 2016 people thought it was a good idea to dress up as creepy clowns and stalk others with knives and other weapons. In September, it allegedly started in the UK, when reports of a creepy clown scaring

Photo by Tom Roberts on Unsplash

children were released. Not long after this, reports around the globe began to appear. Police in the US were inundated with 911 calls regarding clowns chasing unsuspecting victims. Arrests were made, and citizens started to ask if they could shoot the clowns.

This was all around the time when an advertisement for the upcoming 2017 Stephen King reboot of IT was being released. Online, people started to link the creepy sightings to the remake. The theory is that the clowns were a part of the IT marketing campaign which gained so much traction that the producer of the film had to come out and deny any connection to the clowns.

  1. The Earth is Flat

According to Flat-Earther’s, the earth is a flat disc. It means that we were created by someone greater and there is no existence of other lifeforms in the galaxy, oh and there is no galaxy. Mark Sargent, who is a leader of the Flat Earth movement, states that the north pole is at the centre of the Earth. Surrounding the North Pole are the continents and surrounding the continents is Antarctica that creates an ice wall around the entirety of the earth. The sun and moon are small, and the stars are simply lights. Flat-Earthers also state that NASA was founded to falsely advocate for a spherical Earth. Any video that you have seen of astronauts in space, and yes, even the moon landing, is all fake.

Image by ParallelVision from Pixabay

This is a growing movement. It has gained enough traction to convince two per cent of Americans which may not sound like a lot, but two per cent is roughly 6.5 million people. And to put that into perspective, Sydney’s population is 5.3 million.

  1. The Reptilian Elite

The Queen is a lizard person. So is Obama, Beyonce, Hillary Clinton, the list goes on. These reptilian hybrids are responsible for some of the world’s most horrific events. They have caused traumatic moments in history such as the Holocaust and 9/11. People who adhere to this theory believe that these reptilian Aliens are here to enslave us and control our every movement. This is similar to the simulation theory, however, instead of being an Alien race that controls us from afar, they are very much close by. And guess what, some Qanon supporters believe this conspiracy, with one supporter murdering his brother with a sword because he thought he was a lizard.

Photo by Laura Parenti from Pexels

This is not a new conspiracy theory. A British sports reporter fuelled this through his reptilian ramblings stating that there is enough evidence to prove it. This has started a large movement, and as we saw with Flatearther’s, it quickly gained a large following of Americans. In a 2013 survey, 12 million Americans admitted to believing this conspiracy – that’s Sydney and Melbourne’s populations combined.

From growing up on a small family orchard in quiet, rural Morrinsville to running the country while pregnant with her first child, Jacinda Ardern has never forgotten her roots. Her humble beginnings have been key to shaping her into a thoughtful, kind-hearted and relatable leader changing the face of politics today.  

By: Harriet Grayson

Until the day before she took office, Jacinda Ardern says she never saw herself as the future Prime Minister of New Zealand.  Although passionate about pursuing a career in politics from a young age, Ardern was always content with her position as a member of Parliament. She didn’t want the intense spotlight or endless long hours that come with leadership positions, and wanted to build a family with her partner, Clarke Gayford. 

It is this humble, down-to-earth attitude, along with a kindness rarely seen in modern politics, that helped her become New Zealand’s youngest Prime Minister, at only 37 years of age, in more than 150 years.  It is also what won her a second term with enough votes to lead a majority Labour government for the first time in decades. 

Ardern was born in Hamilton, yet spent her early years growing up in Murupara, a small town mostly known for its heavy gang presence. Ardern’s father, Ross Ardern, was a dedicated police officer who spent 40 years in the force, while her mother Laurell was a school cook. The family lived right in front of Murupara’s only police station and felt directly the ever-present threat of violence hanging over the town. 

Ardern recalled one night when the house was pelted with bottles, and another where, sneaking out through the back fence, she saw her dad being confronted by a group of large men. Following her dad’s instructions, she just had to keep walking as if nothing had happened. Although just a child at the time, the inequality Ardern remembers seeing firsthand in Murupara is what first ignited her passion for social justice. 

The family did not stay long in Murupara, moving to Morrinsville after Ardern’s sister was physically abused at school one day. The rest of Ardern’s childhood and teenage years were spent in Morrinsville, where she had what is regarded as the classic Kiwi childhood. She drove tractors around her family orchard, once crashing one into a tree, and raised her own lamb for her school’s agricultural show. Her first job, and her only job outside of politics, was working for the local fish and chip shop.

Jacinda as a young girl riding trailer with friends

It was during high school that Ardern began to put her interest in politics into action. She joined various Human Rights Actions Groups and was the founding member of her school’s Students Against Driving Drunk Group. One of her earliest ‘political victories’ was managing, as a student, to convince the Board of Trustees at Morrinsville College to incorporate trousers as an acceptable part of the girl’s school uniform. In her final year of high school, her peers voted her Most Likely to Become Prime Minister, though she wouldn’t see this quality in herself for many years to come.

Ardern’s parents were heavily Mormon, and their faith was a significant presence in Arden’s childhood. Religion was in many ways one of her foundations, and despite disagreeing with the church’s conservative perspective on gay rights for many years she avoided thinking about what this meant for her as someone who avidly supported gay rights. Living in a flat with three gay friends in her twenties, however, made her realise that, while she still went to church on occasion, she had to choose one or the other. In not taking a side, she felt she was doing a disservice both to the church and to her friends, so she eventually renounced her faith. She did not speak to her father about it, but spoke about it with her mum who was disappointed by her daughter’s decision. 

Her political career kicked off at just 17 years old, when she joined the Labour Party and, with her aunt’s assistance, worked in the office of Harry Duynhoven, a Labour member of Parliament, in New Plymouth. During her time there, she distinctly remembers at one point someone coming in and voicing the various problems they were confronted with. Hearing this made her think how incredible it was that “you can be in Wellington on the one hand changing everything, and then come back here (to New Plymouth) and just change the world for one person.” It was this experience that she says made her truly fall in love with politics and the power it has to change people’s lives, even in small ways. 

Jacinda sitting in front of desk

After graduating high school, she studied at the University of Waikato where she graduated with a Bachelor of Communication Studies. Once she had finished university, she took some time to travel overseas to the United States. Even while travelling, she channeled her political ambitions to ‘change the world’ for people, working for a soup kitchen in New York where she served food to the poor and homeless.

This desire to a make difference in people’s lives through politics has stayed with her throughout her career, from the time she entered Parliament as a candidate for the Waikato district in 2008 to her recent re-election as Prime Minister of New Zealand this year. Her leadership, both of the Labour Party and of the nation, has stood out around the world as it is displays not only authority but kindness, empathy and authenticity, qualities that seem to be severely lacking in the current political climate. She has repeatedly emphasised the importance of allowing people to see her ‘failings’, that she is as prone to failure as anyone else. She feels that above all leaders need to be authentic, rather than try to present some impossible notion of flawless leadership. 

This has been particularly crucial over the last couple of years, as Ardern and her government were faced with the Christchurch terror attack, a devastating volcanic eruption and most recently an ongoing global pandemic. In the wake of the horrific terror attack on a mosque in Christchurch, Ardern held a press conference and spoke a message of unity, diversity and kindness against the hatred that shook the country. The day after the attack, she flew to Christchurch with leaders across the political spectrum and stood with Islamic leaders and mourners, hugging those grieving their losses. And earlier this year, in the midst of lockdown while the pandemic was at its worst in New Zealand, she filmed regular Facebook live chats at home to offer guidance to everyone struggling with being stuck at home. 

Jacinda holding Neve wearing traditional Maori dress

On top of all this, Ardern has had to juggle full time political leadership with parenthood, as just three months into taking office she announced her pregnancy. She gave birth to Neve Te Aroha in June 2018, taking only two months maternity leave before returning to office while her partner, Clarke, took on the role of stay-at-home dad. She has embraced her newfound parenthood the same way she has her leadership, posting photos on Instagram of her various parenting fails from collapsing birthday cakes to Neve’s refusal to share her full plate of toast with her mum. 

The last few years have by no means been easy for Jacinda Ardern, and the next few are likely to be just as hard as New Zealand, let alone the world, is far from out of the woods of the coronavirus pandemic. It will be a huge test of her capacity as a leader, not only as Prime Minister but as head of a party governing with a large majority in Parliament. If she maintains the kindness, compassion and authenticity guiding her, however, the odds are in her favour. 

Halloween in Australia is definitely going to be different this year. While restrictions surrounding COVID-19 have eased for some states throughout the year, others are still in lockdown. There’s no doubt that many kids have been wondering if they can go trick or treating and celebrate other Halloween traditions this year, so here is a state-by-state guide on the restrictions around Halloween, as well as some fun alternatives for those in lockdown or under strict COVID rules.

Western Australia

Restrictions in WA have eased up in the past couple of months, so Halloween will be back to normal this year. There are no limits on outdoor gatherings or house parties, but just make sure that hand sanitizer is available, and try to maintain a 1.5 metre distance when going house to house.

South Australia

Halloween in SA will be just as spooky and fun as every year, but with some added precautions. There are no restrictions on outdoor gatherings, but inside the home, there’s a limit of 50 people – so the big Halloween parties will have to wait until next year. Keep a 1.5 metre distance as usual, and make sure to wash your hands before heading out.

Northern Territory

Coronavirus shouldn’t affect those in Northern Territory this Halloween, but the NT government is still urging everyone to be safe. Social distancing and using hand sanitiser is still mandatory, but Trick orTtreating can go ahead as normal this year. It’s a good idea to only visit the houses in your street or local area, and to practise good hygiene.

Queensland

On the 16th of October, Queenslanders could officially gather in groups of 40 both indoors and outdoors, so Halloween parties and trick or treating are good to go this year. As with the other states, using hand sanitiser and distancing is vital this Halloween.

New South Wales

Celebrating Halloween in New South Wales is going to be different this year, but that’s not going to stop the fun. Instead of greeting Trick or Treaters at the door, households participating in Halloween are encouraged to utilise their front yard instead, keeping a 1.5 metre distance.

The NSW Department for Health suggests placing hand sanitiser in the front yard for extra precautions, and urges candy to be individually wrapped and not placed in bowls. Restrictions on outdoor gatherings maintain that no more than 20 people can be gathered in one place, so be sure to stay clear of busy houses.

ACT

Good news ACT – there are no restrictions on indoor parties and outdoor gatherings are limited to 100 people, so Halloween can function as normal. Aside from the usual social distancing rules, Trick or Treaters are free to go door to door; just make sure there’s plenty of hand sanitiser available.

Victoria

Unfortunately for those in Melbourne, traditional Trick or Treating won’t be happening in 2020. With the current restrictions, up to 10 people from two different households can meet in a public outdoor space, so going door to door is out of the question this year.

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has said that Trick or Treating may be allowed in regional Victoria, but to be on the safe side, its best to stay home this year.

Tasmania

Restrictions in Tasmania allow for 20 people to gather indoors or in one house, so small Halloween parties are still allowed this year. Despite this, the Tasmania Government is urging children and parents to be safe while celebrating Halloween. Instead of traditional Trick or Treating, small gatherings of friends and family members is suggested.

Trick or Treating alternatives

For some states in Australia, Halloween will be more restricted, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be cancelled. Kids of all ages can still get in the spirit of Halloween and go Trick or Treating, even if it’s not door to door.

For costumes, consider using or making a costume that incorporates a mask.

Superheros are a popular choice, but if your child wants to be a pirate or a fairy, they can still dress up and stay safe. Decorating masks for Halloween can not only teach your child about protecting against disease, but it is also a creative and fun activity that gets them excited for the spooky season.

Trick or Treating in states like Tasmania and Victoria can still be fun and entertaining. If possible, ask family members or friends to assist with a Halloween scavenger hunt in your backyard, or in a public park. Kids will still get the Halloween experience without breaking restrictions, and Halloween at home can be just as exciting. For older kids, an at home Halloween house with friends or family members can be a spooky and thrilling experience too.

For states like the Northern Territory or New South Wales where social distancing is strongly encouraged, swap out the communal candy bowl for a more creative Halloween solution.

Try hanging candy bars from a tree or balcony, making pre-packaged or wrapped lolly bags, or leaving sweets along a wall or fence for trick or treaters to collect.

Have a happy (and safe) Halloween this year.

How toxic masculinity hurts both men and women.

“Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

– Margaret Atwood.

Despite progress in gender equality over recent decades there is still a lot of inequality between men and women, as illustrated by Atwood. Toxic masculinity, in the form of crude, sexist behaviour, persists when little is done to lessen this issue. It hurts both men and women, as it creates outdated, unrealistic expectations for men, and takes individuality away from women by objectifying them.

It spreads through gender stereotypes. A 2018 study of young Australian men found those who “conform to traditional definitions of manhood are more likely to suffer harm to themselves, and harm others”, noting that toxic masculinity appears when young men feel peer pressure to behave in a stereotypically “macho” manner, which they often take to mean run amok.

Conforming to outdated views of masculinity has other drawbacks, including reduced social support networks, poor mental health, and a tendency to behave crudely.

Toxic Masculinity is no laughing matter.

It Stereotypes Men:

Toxic Masculinity is spread when crude, sexist behaviour is excused with phrases such as “boys will be boys”, which, in stereotyping men, removes individual responsibility. Stereotypes are harmful, as they rob people of their individuality by placing them into categories. Gender stereotypes used to be everywhere, and only recently have they started being challenged: boys were fighters, and should be interested in macho, action-oriented pastimes like play fighting. Girls were petite and nurturing and should focus their interests in things like looking pretty. This view was endorsed in mainstream media coverage, which presented macho men like Arnold Schwarzenegger as the epitome of masculinity, and stylish women like Reese Witherspoon as embodying ideal “feminine” traits.

Toxic masculinity hurts both men and women.

Christopher Flett, author of What Men Don’t Tell Women About Business, states that males are conditioned to not display certain emotions “because we are taught that it is weak to do so. Men don’t cry! Or if we do, we’ll rarely admit to it.” Conditioning males to only behave a certain way, and not pursue any interests that fall outside the limited scope of stereotypical manliness is toxic masculinity’s foundation.

Supporting this, University of Calgary Masculinity Studies Professor Michael Kehler argues “supportive parents should allow boys an opportunity to explore an array of interests — as well as an array of emotions that are often guarded… because of external social pressures to be accepted within male peer groups.”

Telling boys that they need to act a certain way to be accepted by their peers spreads the misconception that you are not a ‘man’ unless you behave in that manner, and removing their freedom of expression endorses toxic masculinity.

Nurturing positive masculinity should start at an early age.

Outdated gender stereotypes are found in things such as action movies telling boys that it is unmanly to cry, raunchy sex comedies about boys needing to ‘score’, and telling anyone that, rather than pursuing their passion they should do something more ‘macho’.
It spreads when vulgar behaviour is dismissed with remarks about how “boys can’t help themselves.” Not true, every time they make a sexist remark or dirty joke, they are endorsing it and should be held accountable.

Eliminating gender stereotypes helps everyone thrive.

Eliminating it starts on an individual level. Support children in pursuing whatever their passion is. Question outdated views, such as “men don’t cry”. Challenging gender stereotypes is important, because by dismissing these notions, we give everyone the freedom to do whatever makes them happy, whilst placing responsibility for bad behaviour solely on individuals. And you know what the result of that will be? Positive masculinity.

 

During the past week when you’ve opened up your Facebook feed and scrolled through a chain of coronavirus articles, you may have stumbled across the phrase,
“Having a daughter does not make a man decent. Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man.”

These were just a few of the moving words that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (also known as AOC), the first-term Democrat from New York, states in her speech on the floor of the House of Representatives last week. The speech came after Republican Ted Yoho, approached Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the steps of the Capitol, having just voted, and called her “disgusting,” “out of her mind,” and worse…

Too often, when American politicians find their way onto our newsfeeds, it is for the wrong reasons. However, AOC’s recent speech is trending for all the right reasons and here’s why –

  1. She is the youngest woman to ever be elected into American congress and is standing on the floor of the House of Representatives defending herself against a much older, male in power.

American politics is dominated by disreputable male characters. President Trump has been held accountable on multiple occasions for his abusive language and poor attitude towards women. He has built a Republican party that reflects these traits and AOC’s encounter with Yoho is a prime example.
For AOC to stand on the floor of the House of Representatives, as the youngest female in history to be elected into congress and tell her narrative of how Mr. Yoho approached her with his male colleague and called her, “disgusting,” “out of her mind,” “and “a f*cking b*tch,” is incredibly brave. To then follow this recount of events by defending herself, ignites a spark of empowerment in the hearts of all women.

 

  1. Her motive to speak out about the incident was to ensure young girls do not excuse or accept verbal abuse from men. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez states in her speech that Representative Yoho’s comments “were not deeply hurtful or piercing” to her. She explains that she has encountered this harassment in all areas throughout her life.

She was “going to pack it up and go home,” as it was just another day in her life as a woman. However, when she heard Yoho making excuses for his comments towards her, she decided to speak out.
“I could not allow my nieces, I could not allow the little girls I go home to, I could not allow victims of verbal abuse, and worse, to see that, to see that as an excuse, and to see our congress accept it as legitimate and accept it as an apology.”

Her motive for taking to the microphone was to stand with younger women, ensuring they do not tolerate or accept verbal attacks from men.

 

  1. She calls out all men for using their wives, daughters, and family as shields of protection for inexcusable abuse.

Perhaps the most inspiring words of AOC’s speech were, “Having a daughter does not make a man decent. Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man.”

Mr. Yoho attempted to excuse his behaviour by saying that he has a wife and a daughter and therefore, is a decent and respectful person. However, AOC quickly invalidated his comment when she states that she, “is someone’s daughter too,” and no child, no women, no man, no person, should ever be spoken to with such disrespect.

 

  1. She acknowledges that this does not only happen to women in politics, but women in all professions, in multiple different areas of their lives, and it is not okay. 

Before being elected into congress, AOC majored in international relations, was an activist, and worked as a waitress and a bartender. She mentions her previous occupations in her speech and states that she has “ridden the subways and walked the streets of New York City and this kind of language is not new.”

She unites all women by acknowledging that in some way, shape, or form, we have all been in her position and experienced verbal abuse, and that is the problem. AOC acknowledging that there is an issue and using her position to vocalise it is encouraging.

 

  1. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t only defend herself but defends principle, and countless women, not only in America, but across the globe.  

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez closed her speech with, “Lastly, what I want to express to Mr. Yoho is gratitude.” Because he showed the world that any man, no matter their title, their position of power, if they have a daughter or if they have a wife, can still accost women without remorse. It happens everywhere, every single day, and by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling him out in her speech, she defends, inspires, and empowers us all.