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Mark Rober Faces Backlash Over NEXT For Autism Fundraiser

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  • YouTuber Mark Rober is facing backlash for hosting a star-studded fundraiser with Jimmy Kimmel for the charity NEXT for Autism. 
  • Rober announced the fundraiser in a video on Friday where he shared that his son is on the autism spectrum.
  • Many online, including several people in the autistic community, said NEXT supports finding treatments and cures for autism, something the community does not believe in. Some also were frustrated that the group supports the controversial practice of Applied Behavioral Analysis, a therapy that targets and changes certain social skills..
  • Following the criticism, NEXT released a statement saying it does not support finding a cure for autism and that while it does deal with ABA, the practice has changed over the years and it does not support dangerous variations. 

Mark Rober’s Fundraiser Faces Backlash

YouTuber Mark Rober is facing backlash for an upcoming livestream fundraiser he is hosting with talk show host Jimmy Kimmel to support NEXT for Autism. 

The livestream, called Color the Spectrum, will be held on April 30 and will feature major television, film, and internet celebrities including MrBeast, Jack Black, Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, Andy Samberg, Paul Rudd, Mark Hamill, Sarah Silverman, Terry Crews, Rhett & Link, and John Oliver. Rober announced the event in a video on Friday titled “The Truth About My Son” where he revealed that his son is autistic. According to Rober’s donation tab on YouTube, the initiative has already brought in over $850,000 for NEXT for Autism. 

While some people have applauded his efforts, others are slamming Rober, Kimmel, and the other stars participating in the event for aiding the organization. Many people in the autistic community believe that NEXT for Autism’s work does not help autistic people; rather, they claim it actually harms them. 

On Twitter, many said the organization promotes and supports finding a “cure” for autism, something that many in the community do not believe in. NEXT is tied to a variety of groups, including Autism Speaks and The Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, which have been criticized for similar reasons. 

While Autism Speaks has removed “cures” from its mission statement, the latter still says it is devoted to finding “treatments.” Many circulated a screenshot of a mission statement from CADB where prevention efforts were listed as a focus, as well; however, that no longer appears on its website. 

Others were critical of NEXT’s support for a practice called Applied Behavioral Analysis, which is a therapy that targets and changes certain social skills. Some have described this as a “conversion therapy” for autistic people. 

Additionally, people took issue with the fact that NEXT does not have a lot of autisic people on its board or working in leadership positions for the group. Some also disagreed with the way Rober painted autism in his video, feeling that he suggested autistic people’s main contributions to the world were limited to their positivity. 

Petition Calls for Event to Be Canceled

A petition calling for the event to be canceled currently has over 10,000 signatures. It compared some of NEXT’s practices to eugenics and said the group supports “other extremely harmful ideologies that all come down to the sole purpose of ending the existence of autistic people.” 

The petition suggested that people who want to donate to the autistic community should find other organizations like the Autism Self Advocacy Network.

A Twitter user named Dave Shaw wrote an open letter to those involved in the fundraiser asking them to not support NEXT.

“As an austistic adult, I can assure you that like any other marginalised community we want and need acceptance and to be included in society,” he wrote. “The organization behind the upcoming livestream, Next For Autism, does not provide nor aim for this.” 

He backed many of the other issues people have had with NEXT, calling ABA “traumatic” and a from of “child abuse.” He also stood against efforts to cure autism. 

“Autism is not a disease or a defect to be cured. It is simply a form of diversity,” he wrote. 

His letter caught the attention of YouTubers Rhett & Link, who were scheduled to appear in the livestream.

“Thank you for bringing this to our attention,” they wrote back. “We are no longer participating in the event.”

NEXT For Autism Responds

Following the backlash, NEXT released a statement on Monday defending its practices and denying allegations that it is funding efforts to cure autism. 

“There have been some outrageous misinformation circulating about Next for Autism, its mission, methods, and partners,” that statement said. 

“Our mission has never been the cure or prevention of autism, in fact, NEXT was created to fill a void,” it continued, adding that when it was founded, most groups aiding the autistic community were working to fund biomedical research, while NEXT was focused on school services. 

The statement then addressed NEXT’s partnership with Autism Speaks and said it only works with the group to aid its mission of expanding access to programs and services. 

“Anyone using these partnerships to draw a line from NEXT to eugenics or anything related to the prevention and cure of autism is doing an enormous disservice to the people we serve by spreading this gross untruth.”

Regarding ABA, NEXT said the methodology has changed over the years and bears no resemblance to the conversion therapy-like treatments people are claiming the group supports. 

NEXT also said it is committed to including more Autistic board members in the future. 

For his part, Rober wrote that proceeds from Color the Spectrum will go directly towards services to helping autistic people after they graduate towards high school, a time period where programs are particularly lacking. His post did not directly address the backlash, but clarified where money raised will go. 

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Jake Paul Launches Anti-Bullying Charity

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The charity, called Boxing Bullies, aims to use the sport to give kids confidence and courage.


Jake Paul Launches Boxing Bullies Foundation

YouTuber Jake Paul — best known as the platform’s boxer, wreckless partier, and general troublemaker — has seemingly launched a non-profit to combat bullying.  

The charity is called Boxing Bullies. According to a mission statement posted on Instagram, it aims to “instill self confidence, leadership, and courage within the youth through the sport of boxing while using our platform, voice, and social media to fight back against bullying.”

If the notion of a Paul-founded anti-bullying charity called “Boxing Bullies” was not already begging to be compared to former First Lady Melania Trump’s “Best Best” initiative, maybe the group’s “Boxing Bullies Commandments” will help connect the dots. Those commandments use an acronym for the word “BOX” to spell out the charity’s golden rules.

Be kind to everyone; Only defend, never initiate; X-out bullying.” 

Paul Hopes To “Inspire” Kids To Stand Up For Themselves

Paul first said he was launching Boxing Bullies during a July 13 interview following a press conference for his upcoming fight against Tyron Woodley.

“I know who I am at the end of the day, which is a good person,” he told reporters. “I’m trying to change this sport, bring more eyeballs. I’m trying to support other fighters, increase fighter pay. I’m starting my charity, I’m launching that in 12 days here called Boxing Bullies and we’re helping to fight against cyberbullying.”

It has not been quite 12 days since the interview, so it’s likely that more information about the organization will be coming soon. Currently, the group has been the most active on Instagram, where it boasts a following of just around 1,200 followers. It has posted once to Twitter, where it has 32 followers; and has a TikTok account that has yet to publish any content. It also has a website, though there is not too much on it as of yet.

On its Instagram, one post introducing Paul as the founder claims the rowdy YouTuber started this charity because he has been on the receiving end of bullying.

Having been a victim of bullying himself, Jake experienced firsthand the impact it has on a person’s life,” the post says. “Jake believes that this is a prevailing issue in society that isn’t talked about enough. Boxing gave Jake the confidence to not care about what others think and he wants to share the sport and the welfare it‘s had on him with as many kids as possible.”

It adds that he hopes his group can“inspire the next generation of kids to be leaders, be athletes, and to fight back against bullying.”

Paul Previously Accused of Being a Bully

While fighting against bullying is a noble cause, it is an ironic project for Paul to start, as he has faced no shortage of bullying accusations. While Paul previously sang about “stopping kids from getting bullied” in the lunchroom, some have alleged he himself was actually a classic high school bully who threw kids’ backpacks into garbage cans. 

This behavior allegedly continued into his adulthood, as a New York Times report from earlier this year claimed he ran his Team 10 house with a culture of toxicity and bullying. Among other things, sources said he involved others in violent pranks, pressured people into doing dangerous stunts, and destroyed peoples’ personal property to make content.

Earlier this year, Paul was also accused of sexual assault, though he denied those allegations.

See what others are saying: (Dexerto)

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Director Defends Recreating Anthony Bourdain’s Voice With AI in New Documentary

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The film’s director claims he received permission from Bourdain’s estate and literary agent, but on Thursday, Bourdain’s widow publicly denied ever giving that permission. 


Bourdain’s Voice Recreated

“You are successful, and I am successful, and I’m wondering: Are you happy?” Anthony Bourdain says in a voiceover featured in “Roadrunnner,” a newly released documentary about the late chef — except Bourdain never actually said those words aloud.

Instead, it’s one of three lines in the film, which features frequent voiceovers from Bourdain, that were created through the use of artificial intelligence technology.

That said, the words are Bourdain’s own. In fact, they come from an email Bourdain reportedly wrote to a friend prior to his 2018 suicide. Nonetheless, many have now questioned whether recreating Bourdain’s voice was ethical, especially since documentaries are meant to reflect reality.

Director Defends Use of AI Voice

The film’s director, Academy Award winner Morgan Neville, has defended his use of the synthetic voice, telling Variety that he received permission from Bourdain’s estate and literary agent before inserting the lines into the film. 

“There were a few sentences that Tony wrote that he never spoke aloud,” Neville said. “It was a modern storytelling technique that I used in a few places where I thought it was important to make Tony’s words come alive.” 

Bourdain’s widow — Ottavia Bourdain, who is the executor of his estate — later denied Neville’s claim on Twitter, saying, “I certainly was NOT the one who said Tony would have been cool with that.”

In another interview with GQ, Neville described the process, saying the film’s creators “fed more than ten hours of Tony’s voice into an AI model.”

“The bigger the quantity, the better the result,” he added. “We worked with four companies before settling on the best.”

“If you watch the film,” Neville told The New Yorker, “you probably don’t know what the other lines are that were spoken by the AI, and you’re not going to know. We can have a documentary-ethics panel about it later.” 

The Ethics Debate Isn’t Being Tabled

But many want to have that discussion now.

Boston-based film critic Sean Burns, who gave the film a rare negative review, later criticized it again for its unannounced use of AI, saying he wasn’t aware that Bourdain’s voice had been recreated until after he watched the documentary.  

Meanwhile, The New Yorker’s Helen Rosner wrote that the “seamlessness of the effect is eerie.”

“If it had been a human voice double I think the reaction would be “huh, ok,” but there’s something truly unsettling about the idea of it coming from a computer,” Rosner later tweeted. 

Online, many others have criticized the film’s use of AI, with some labeling it as a “deepfake.”

Others have offered more mixed criticism, saying that while the documentary highlights the need for posthumous AI use to be disclosed, it should not be ruled out altogether. 

“In a world where the living could consent to using AI to reproduce their voices posthumously, and where people were made aware that such a technology was being used, up front and in advance, one could envision that this kind of application might serve useful documentary purposes,” David Leslie, ethics lead at the Alan Turing Institute, told the BBC.

Celebrities Recreated After Death

The posthumous use of celebrity likeness in media is not a new debate. In 2012, a hologram of Tupac took the stage 15 years after his death. In 2014, the Billboard Music Awards brought a hologram of Michael Jackson onstage five years after his death. Meanwhile, the Star Wars franchise digitally recreated actor Peter Cushing in 2016’s “Rogue One,” and unused footage of actress Carrie Fisher was later translated into “The Rise of Skywalker,” though a digital version of Fisher was never used.

In recent years, it has become almost standard for filmmakers to say that they will not create digital versions of characters whose actors die unexpectedly. For example, several months after Chadwick Boseman’s death last year, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” executive producer Victoria Alonso confirmed Boseman would not be digitally recreated for his iconic role as King T’Challa.

See what others are saying: (BBC) (Yahoo! News) (Variety)

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Doctors Want You to Know: Whatever You Do, Don’t Stick Garlic up Your Nose to Try and Relieve Congestion

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They warn the new TikTok trend could cause even worse problems, such as irritation and swelling. 


TikTok Garlic Nose Trend

In a viral trend that feels eerily similar to the Nutmeg Challenge, doctors are now warning people against participating in a TikTok trend that has users shoving whole cloves of garlic up their noses for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. 

In the videos, creators claim that garlic can relieve sinus congestion, and once they pull the cloves out of their nostrils, an excessive amount of snot comes flowing out of their noses. 

“Since tik tok took it down the first time. THIS IS NOT DANGEROUS. The garlic cleans out your sinuses,” TikTok user hwannah5 said in a June 25 post. 

Source: @hwannah5

Doctors’ Warnings

Doctors are now warning the opposite, saying that there’s no medical proof garlic acts as a decongestant. 

As Dr. Richard Wender of the University of Pennsylvania told Insider, “Evidence is important, and it would be wrong to say that we’ve done extensive research about garlic in noses.”

“But in general, garlic itself and the chemicals of garlic don’t interact much with human tissue,” he added. 

Wender went on to explain that stuffing one’s nose with foreign objects can actually cause irritation and swelling, rather than relief. 

“Yes, it’s true that garlic has some antibacterial properties, which means it may be useful to treat a variety of common ailments,” Dr. Deborah Lee from Dr. Fox Online Pharmacy told Delish. “In one study, those who took garlic supplements for three months had less colds than those who did not. But this is not the same as actively treating a stuffy nose or blocked sinuses. Garlic is not a decongestant, and in fact, may just irritate the lining of the nose and airways and make symptoms worse.”

As far as what’s causing streams of snot to pour out of people’s noses after inserting their garlic plugs, Wender said that may be occurring because the nose produces mucus when irritated. On top of that, the cloves can also block already-existing mucus from flowing. 

Instead, doctors recommend using already-known solutions if you’re feeling congested, such as vapor rubs, antihistamines, over-the-counter saline sprays, and neti pots. 

TikTok user hwannah5 later responded to a doctor’s explanation that the clove blocks create rather than clear mucus, noting that others shouldn’t repeatedly try the blocks. Doctors contend that the trend should not be done at all. 

See what others are saying: (Insider) (Delish) (The Star)

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