Tech N9ne Talks Lil Wayne, The Rock, Eminem, T.I., Strange Music And Kansas City, MO

Tech N9ne sits down with Big Court and the Holdin Court Podcast in this full length interview. He dives into topics regarding ”Lil Wayne”, ”The Rock”, ”Eminem”, ”T.I” and more! Along with discussions about his record label ”Strange Music” and his hometown Kansas City, MO.

Sofia Jirau Becomes Victoria’s Secret’s First Model With Down Syndrome

Sofía Jirau has officially made history, becoming the first Victoria’s Secret model with Down syndrome.

The 24-year-old Puerto Rican model shared the news on social media, joining the fashion brand — along with 17 other women — for a new underwear line and campaign, Love Cloud Collection. Alongside a black and white photo of herself modeling a Victoria’s Secret bra, Jiaru thanked the company for seeing her as a model “without limits.”

“One day I dreamed of it, I worked for it and today it’s a dream come true. I can finally tell you my big secret,” Jirau wrote. “I am Victoria’s Secret’s first model with Down syndrome!”

“Thank you Victoria’s Secret for seeing me as a model who has #NoLimits and making me part of the inclusive Love Cloud Collection campaign,” she added. “Inside and out, there are no limits.”

“Love Cloud Collection is a major moment in the brand’s evolution,” Raúl Martinez, Victoria Secret’s chief creative director, said in a statement. “From the cast of incredible women that bring the collection to life, to the incredible inclusive spirit on set, this campaign is an important part of the new Victoria’s Secret standard we are creating.” 

Source: People

People Are So Mad About Chinese Americans Competing For China’s Olympic Team While There Are Entire White Men On The Team Too

With the Winter Olympics in full swing in Beijing, two athletes, skier Eileen Gu, and figure skater Zhu Yi, have been trending in two different social media spheres.

Both Californian-born athletes have been receiving intense backlash for changing their nationalities to compete for China.

Gu, an 18-year-old first-year Stanford student and San Francisco native, made history as the youngest-ever Olympic freestyle ski champion. Most Americans have been celebrating online, but conservative commentators are in an uproar over her decision to “switch sides” and win the gold for China.

“It’s ungrateful for her to turn her back on the country that not just raised her, but turned her into a world-class skier,” a right-wing podcaster said in an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. “I hope Eileen Gu likes living in China, what a traitor. Born in San Francisco, CA snd competes for Chinese money. Get out!” wrote someone on Twitter.

Gu’s response to the haters? “Cry ab it,” she wrote on TikTok after a commenter asked why she didn’t compete for the US.

Zhu Yi, also known as Beverly Zhu, is a 19-year-old Angeleno who also gave up her US citizenship to compete.

“so so so honored to be representing Team China at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics ✨,” she wrote on Instagram on Jan. 28. “Especially after having a couple rough years, I’m so grateful for those who helped me push past the negative thoughts and injuries; helping me grow throughout this journey.”

But the negativity was just getting started. Chinese social media platforms were ablaze with a now-deleted viral theory that she used nepotism to qualify for the team over a Chinese-born skater. Others blasted Zhu for her inability to speak fluent Mandarin while representing China.

“Is she really patriotic?” one commented. “How is one person’s dream bigger than the country? It’s ass backward.” The criticisms came from all sides, with someone commenting on her TikTok this week: “Enjoy China. The bastion of freedom, right? Turncoat.”

Then when Zhu fell during competition, #ZhuYiMistake, #ShameOnZhuYi and #ZhuYiFellDown began trending on Weibo.

The social media reaction to the athletes changing nationalities surprised William Tran, vice president of the Pasadena Figure Skating Club and a figure skating judge.

“It’s completely within the rules, and something many sports are used to,” he told BuzzFeed News. “The United States has had incredible athletes from other countries represent our team, and many athletes have found success representing others.”

Zhu and Gu aren’t the only foreign-born Olympians representing China. Jake Chelios, the white son of National Hockey League star Chris Chelios, will be playing as Jie Ke Kai Liao Si on the Chinese men’s hockey team. Chelios, who is from Illinois and played hockey for a few years in China, told the Associated Press that his new name was “cool” and part of the experience of playing abroad.

“Since I’ve been over here, everything’s kind of new for me, and that’s the exciting part about playing overseas,” he said. “I know two or three words [in Chinese], but I took six years of Spanish in high school. I couldn’t even learn that, so I didn’t even try.”

Former NHL goaltender Jeremy Smith, a white man from Michigan, (competing as Jie Rui Mi Shi Mi Si) will also be competing for China. Most of the roster for China’s women’s hockey team shares heritage in the country, but have been imported from Canada and the United States.

But none of them have had the backlash experienced by Gu and Zhu.

Nationality changes have been occurring since the 1970s, Tran said, allowing athletes to compete on a world stage with more international opportunity that they may not otherwise have. “It’s not always that you’re giving up one citizenship for the other,” he said. “Some nations don’t allow for dual citizenship, but many do.”

One Chinese American user wrote on Twitter, “We’ll always be accepted as a fellow compatriot by Chinese people as long as we maintain cultural ties, while Yanks will never see us as true Americans. Haters are simply proving us right.”

I find this to be the most honest part of the discourse. “As long as we maintain cultural ties” is part of the largest criticism against Zhu, whose ability to speak Mandarin fluently has been hotly contested, while people on social media have stayed fairly quiet about a player like Chelios’s open disinterest in learning the language because he has no Chinese heritage.

But maintaining cultural ties for children of naturalized citizens in the US is not always a matter of choice. Holidays such as Lunar New Year are not yet federally recognized, meaning most states do not implement school holidays or time off work. Generational poverty and difficult living conditions for some families mean paying for language school and having regular cultural education is both a financial and time-scarce burden. And after all of that, choosing to maintain cultural ties can be dangerous, resulting in hate or violence. Fully embracing one’s own identity hinges on conditions people cannot always meet — not by desire, but circumstance.

Of course, there are other factors. Gu achieved a historic win, while Zhu did not. Skating has long been the most-followed sport at the Winter Olympics, so its athletes will tend to draw more buzz (Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu may not have won any medals but his outfits won TikTok). And the long-brewing tension between the US and China makes nationality change a more politically sensitive issue than, for example, one skier’s adjustment from Britain to Jamaica.

The jump to criticize Zhu’s and Gu’s individual patriotism toward either the US or China feels like it was never about nationality change. Instead, the online chatter seems like an opportunity to use young women’s actions to tell others who can and can’t claim identities they were born into, and to brand certain nationalities by a set of baseless rules that only further a particularly hateful perspective.

There is intense pressure on these athletes to win. Figure skating costs anywhere between $35,000 to $50,000 per year, while alpine skiing can cost up to $30,000. “Most of these sports gain most media and fan attention during the Olympics. It’s a once in a four year opportunity to be showcased,” said Tran. “If you keep that in mind, you might understand why someone might make sacrifices in order to compete there.”

Are we really going to bully young women for wanting to do well? If I were an overachieving teen desperate to compete, I’d consider changing my nationality too.

Or as Gu said in a press conference about the criticism: “If people don’t like me, that’s their loss — they’ll never win the Olympics.”

Source: BuzzFeed

Father Of Teen TikTok Star Ava Majury Fatally Shoots Armed Stalker At Florida Home

Ava Majury downloaded TikTok when she was 13, and at the height of the pandemic lockdowns a year later had more than a million followers. Her fans, nearly three-quarters of them male, watched her lip-sync and dance to trending music on an account with the profile message, “Hey, I love you!!”

In early 2020 Ava noticed that one fan, EricJustin111, was trying to get her attention in comments on TikTok. He messaged her in Snapchat and on Instagram, and turned up in online games she played with her brothers. Ava responded to him a few times at first, she said, “because I used to reply to my fans, like ‘Hey, how was your day?’’’

Early on July 10, the fan — Eric Rohan Justin, 18, of Ellicott City, Md. — arrived with a shotgun at the Majury family home in Naples and blew open the front door. His weapon jammed; Ava’s father, Rob Majury, a retired police lieutenant, chased him off but fell. Mr. Majury told Collier County sheriff’s officers that he returned to the house, retrieved his handgun and stood guard at the front door, only to see the gunman return a short time later. By sunrise Mr. Justin lay dying, shot by Mr. Majury.

What began as an enterprising teenager’s lockdown venture has awakened the family of five to how online fame can fuel real-world violence. In interviews with The New York Times, they spoke for the first time about an ordeal that illuminates the dark side of a social media platform favored by millions of children.

TikTok’s owner, Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., and many of its users emphasize the friendships, innovative content and creative collaboration enabled by the platform, but its enormous popularity among vulnerable, underage people has also been linked to mental health problems, injuries and deaths.

Today Ava Majury remains on TikTok, where she is netting thousands of dollars in sponsorship deals and has attracted interest from Hollywood, including from reality TV producers. Her TikTok fame has brought sponsorship opportunities on Instagram and Snapchat, too. Instagram, owned by Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has also been accused of causing mental and emotional health problems among teenage female users.

“Her creations, her contacts, her videos became such a big part of her that to take it away would have been hard,” her father said.

“We chose what’s best for our family,” Ava’s mother, Kim Majury, added. “We know there are going to be two sides, and some people won’t understand.”

The Majurys moved to Florida in 2019 from Manalapan, N.J., lured by its warm climate, low taxes and a quieter lifestyle. They settled in Naples, a staid, safe community of affluent retirees and growing families in Collier County, on the state’s Gulf Coast. Mr. Majury, 51, is a former Jersey City police lieutenant, and Mrs. Majury, 45, is an ultrasound technologist. The family rented a home in Raffia Preserve, a subdivision of tidy homes on curving streets.

Ava is “a go-getter,” her father said. When classmates in New Jersey admired a sticker she had designed for her laptop, she started selling them, eventually earning nearly $700. On TikTok, she has promoted a tooth-whitening product, emerging recording artists and N.F.L. games.

“I have three TikTok accounts, so I could have one brand come to me and be like, ‘Oh, I’ll do $1,000 for one video on your main account,’ and I’ll be like, ‘Oh great, I have two other accounts that are different types of people on there,’” Ava said in an interview. “So altogether, I’m making $1,700 off just my name, because I opened up three accounts rather than just building off one.”

Her venture surprised and intrigued her parents. “Honestly, we had no idea the extent of what she was able to earn,” Mr. Majury said. He has appeared in a couple of her videos, including one she made in the car while he was driving.

“We both pointed at the camera at the same time and the music stopped and she starts laughing. You know, so innocent, it was sweet for me. It’s me and her having a moment,” Mr. Majury recalled. The moment drew hundreds of thousands of views.

Downloads of TikTok grew by 75 percent in 2020, making it the world’s most-downloaded app that year, according to Hootsuite. Today the platform has more than one billion average monthly users. It welcomes account holders as young as 13, and in 2021 outflanked both Instagram and Snapchat in weekly usage by youth ages 12 to 17. While teens like Ava have used it to entertain and spread positive messages, viral “TikTok Challenges” have been cited as inspiring children to vandalize and threaten their schools, follow starvation “Corpse Bride” diets and asphyxiate themselves. Teen girls have been repeatedly targeted by child predators.

A TikTok spokeswoman, Mahsau Cullinane, emailed a statement saying that TikTok is “deeply invested in the safety and well-being of our community’’ and added that the platform uses tools to protect users under the age of 16. In 2020, TikTok classified more than a third of its 49 million daily users in the United States as 14 or younger, according to internal company data and documents reviewed by The Times.

Ava has two brothers, Evan and Logan, ages 17 and 11. She and Evan attend a sprawling public high school where much of student life revolves around social media.

In early 2020, after Ava noticed Mr. Justin angling for her attention on TikTok, she learned that friends in New Jersey and Florida were selling him photos of her as well as her personal information, including her cellphone number, which Mr. Justin used to call and text her. In another instance, Mr. Justin logged onto a classmate’s school account and did math homework in exchange for information about Ava, her family said.

“I had to unfollow all my local friends and Jersey friends,” Ava said. “And everyone around me was like, ‘Oh you’re going Hollywood on all of us, you don’t want to talk to us anymore.’ And I’m like, ‘You’re selling my stuff.’”

But Ava’s parents allowed her to sell Mr. Justin a couple of selfies that she had already posted to Snapchat.

“I wasn’t sending anything of my body,’’ Ava said. “It was just pictures of my face, which is what I assume that he was paying for. My whole thing is my pretty smile — that’s my content.” She said Mr. Justin paid about $300 for two photos, via the Venmo digital wallet app.

After that, Mr. Justin messaged Ava on Venmo with a breakdown of what he would pay for “booty pics” and photos of her feet, “stuff that a 14-year-old shouldn’t be sending,” she said. She blocked him on all her accounts. In Venmo messages viewed by The Times, Mr. Justin pleaded with her to unblock him, sending $159.18, then $100, and finally $368.50 with the message, “sorry this is all I have left i’m broke.”

Mr. Majury said he texted Mr. Justin’s cellphone, told him that Ava was a minor, and demanded that he stop contacting her.

At that point Mr. Justin’s efforts turned sinister. In a series of text messages that made their way to Ava, and which the Majury family showed The Times, he asked one of Ava’s male classmates whether he had access to a “strap,” or gun, shared plans to assault her, and wrote, “i could just breach the door with a shotgun i think.” The classmate’s mother declined an interview request.

When Ava learned of the threatening messages, she called the classmate who had received them. He confirmed that he had gotten them, and forwarded others to her. Fearful, she showed her parents. They researched Mr. Justin’s identity, saw that he lived hundreds of miles away, and reassured her that “he was one of these keyboard cowboys,” Mr. Majury said.

“I sort of discredited what could have been a threat.”

Ava’s bedroom was just inside the door Mr. Justin blasted open.

“All I remember was, I heard it, I felt it in my chest, and I looked up, and there was a hole in my door from the fragments,” she said. She ran through a connecting bathroom to her brothers’ room, clutching a blanket, water bottle and her cellphone.

Mr. Majury bolted from bed and ran shouting to the foyer, where he said debris still floated in the air. Mrs. Majury followed, dialing 911 on her phone. Outside a gangly teenager wearing what looked like a blue Walmart worker’s vest, protective earplugs and safety glasses stood on the front lawn. He turned to escape and Mr. Majury sprinted forward but fell, gashing his knee. The gunman paused, struggling to clear his jammed weapon, then ran away. Mr. Majury retrieved his handgun, and was standing at the front door awaiting the police when Mr. Justin returned. Mr. Majury said he ordered the teenager to drop the shotgun, and when he instead pointed it at him, Mr. Majury fired.

The three Majury children had retreated to their parents’ bedroom in the rear of the house. Ava’s older brother, Evan, turned to her in panic and fury.

“This is all your fault,” he said.

“The subject was most likely a stalker that resulted from her daughter’s extensive social media involvement,” the Collier County Sheriff’s Office report read, citing statements to them from Mrs. Majury. “Since her daughter’s involvement with social media, multiple subjects have attempted to ascertain her family’s address in the past.” Mrs. Majury provided them with contact information for Mr. Justin, the report said.

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office told local media at the time that a man had been shot and killed by the resident of a home in Raffia Preserve after firing a gun into the home, in an attempted home invasion robbery. The office did not name the gunman.

The Majurys said police told them that Mr. Justin was carrying two cellphones that contained thousands of photographs of Ava and hundreds of hours of her videos.

Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk and investigators from his office did not respond to requests for interviews. “This remains an active investigation and there are no updates,” Karie Partington, a sheriff’s office spokeswoman, said in an email.

The gunman’s identity was confirmed by his father, Justin Dominic. Mr. Dominic, a software engineer who is divorced from Mr. Justin’s mother, said that before the divorce the family had lived in the United States and then had moved to Mr. Dominic’s native India. When his parents split up, Mr. Justin chose to move back to the U.S. with his mother, his father said, recalling their move as around 2015.

Mr. Dominic, who said he had spoken with investigators, recalled his son as a good student who did well in math at Mount Hebron High School in Ellicott City. “He was a nice kid. I’m at a loss for words,” he said in an interview. “I don’t know what went bad with him. He made a bad choice.”

After the shooting the Majurys, reeling, moved in with friends. A few days later Mrs. Majury received an invitation from a would-be agent for Ava to visit Los Angeles, meet other influencers, and attend a couple of red carpet events. One was for “Glo-Up Girls,” a line of makeover-ready dolls advertised on a YouTube channel featuring six teenage influencers “living in a mansion and taking on sensational Glo-Up challenges.”

“It was a nice distraction, absolutely,” Mrs. Majury said.

After the Majurys returned home, their homeowners’ association sent a letter to their landlord demanding their eviction because, among other reasons, Ava’s social media venture had attracted an intruder to the property.

In early August, Ava received messages on Venmo from a man calling her “baby girl,” offering to pay $1,000 a month for her phone number. Her parents discovered that the man’s name matches that of a registered sex offender, arrested previously for soliciting a 14-year-old girl.

Mrs. Majury remembers thinking, “We can’t live like this.”

Mr. Majury said he was advised by the police that under Florida’s “stand your ground” law governing justifiable use of deadly force, he was not subject to prosecution. But just to be safe, he contacted a lawyer, James Scarmozzino, to represent him. Mr. Scarmozzino connected the family to other lawyers who organized a business centered on Ava’s potential earnings.

Michael Marino, an entertainment lawyer in New York, created an enterprise, AGM Creations, for Ava, and signed an agreement with the Majurys for a percentage of future revenues. Mr. Marino turned to a friend, Lanny Davis, a Washington lawyer and crisis manager whose public relations firm is now representing Ava.

The shooting continues to reverberate.

The boy who received Mr. Justin’s messages about his plans to attack Ava still attends high school with her. In December, Ava told her parents that he was following and watching her. The family visited the high school to report the matter. Last month, another classmate sent her a video the boy had made of himself firing a gun at a shooting range, her mother said.

Unnerved, Ava withdrew from school this month and now attends class from home. Mr. Scarmozzino filed a petition in Collier County Circuit Court seeking an injunction for protection against stalking. A hearing is set for Feb. 28, and Ava will testify.

Ava is still on social media, with her parents’ support. Mrs. Majury said she did not want “sick individuals” to force Ava off the platforms. “Why should we allow them to stop her? Maybe she’s meant to bring awareness to all this,” Mrs. Majury said.

Ava has not told her followers what happened. “I don’t want it to go out negatively and people think I attracted him,” she said.

Her greater worry is that other troubled people will “make it a contest to see who can get here first,’’ and she acknowledged that sometimes at night, trying to fall asleep after the shooting, “I’d think, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore.’” But by morning, “I thought of all the benefits.’’

“Most people would say the money. And yeah, it’s a huge benefit. But it’s the experience. I got to go to L.A., the people that I met,” she said. “Just being able to make other people smile is what I like, the enjoyment of seeing the impact I made on some people’s lives.

“I’d post a video at night, close my eyes, and in the morning it was exciting to see how many views I got.”

Her father interjected: “It’s like Christmas every day, because then you see it build.”

“I think we just had to allow her to make a decision and sort of support her. I think it’s going to help her heal. It sounds corny, but I don’t know what else you would do it for.”

Source: NY Times

Coachella Won’t Require Masks, Testing, Or Vaccination When The Desert Music Festival Returns In April

When the Coachella outdoor music festival returns for the first time in two years this April, performers will be greeted by a sea of unmasked — and potentially unvaccinated — fans as the struggling concert industry stirs back to life.

Organizers said on Tuesday that attendees would not be required to wear masks or be vaccinated or tested for the coronavirus at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which drew up to 125,000 fans a day to Southern California and was one of the biggest music festivals of the pre-pandemic era.

“There is no guarantee, express or implied, that those attending the festival will not be exposed to Covid-19,” Goldenvoice, a division of the global concert giant AEG Live, said on the Coachella website.

Goldenvoice noted, however, that the festival’s Covid policies may change “in accordance with applicable public health conditions.”

Goldenvoice also said on Tuesday that Stagecoach, a country music festival in Southern California, would have no requirements for guests to be masked, vaccinated or tested. The festival was set to run for three days in late April and early May.

It has been a turbulent two years for the concert and touring industries as a number of events were canceled because of the coronavirus. In the last year, since Covid vaccines became widely available, organizers have grappled with decisions over whether to hold the events at all and whether to require masks, vaccines and testing.

Over four days last summer, the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago ran at full capacity, with its 400,000 attendees being required to show either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test. According to data released by the city after the festival, infection rates among the concertgoers were low.

Coachella did not run in 2020 or 2021, and was canceled three times over the pandemic, including a rescheduled date in the fall of 2020.

Before the pandemic, Coachella, which is widely seen as a bellwether for the multibillion-dollar touring business, had put on a show every year since 1999 at the Empire Polo Club in Indio. It typically runs over two weekends in April.

The organizers of Coachella announced in January, after weeks of speculation, that the festival would be back this year. It is set to be headlined by Billie Eilish, Harry Styles and Kanye West.

Source: NY Times