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Afghanistan’s First Female Rapper: “If I Stay Silent, Nothing Will Change”

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Paradise Sorouri is no stranger to controversy. Originally born in Iran, Paradise is Afghanistan’s first female rapper, a remarkable honor that has attracted death threats and brutal physical assaults. According to the Guardian, Paradise was “forced to flee her country twice, received more death threats than she can count and was brutally beaten by 10 men on the street and left to die.”

Intrigued by her story, the Mind Unleashed decided to check in with her so that she can further explain who she is, her experiences and ultimately her music, which has attracted so much persecution, particularly in her home country of Afghanistan.

Paradise is a staunch believer in women’s rights, children’s rights, and spreading love all around the world. She founded her band, 143BandMusic, with her fiancé Diverse, both of whom were born in Iran. The two of them have been singing together since 2008. However, according to Paradise, her and her fiancé were forced to leave Iran to Herat, their mother-town in Western Afghanistan.

“There are two different regimes in both countries for sure,” Paradise told me. “In Iran, it’s ruled based on the Government and for sure freedom of speech and all manner of political activities such as singing, and so many other things are controlled directly by government.” 

However, in Afghanistan it is almost the same but there are some tribal and local rules as well. Mullahs have direct control of the district and neighborhoods as well.

“We also realized that people of Iran, those that they are seeking freedom are mostly in danger of government actions but in Afghanistan there are also people who will control the situation and govern other people and take matters into their own hands, too.” She added.

Paradise recalls that on one particular occasion in Afghanistan back in 2009 in Herat city, she was surrounded by ten men on motorcycles who began beating her with wooden rods. Onlookers urged them to kill her. This is precisely what she is referring to when she acknowledged that in Afghanistan, locals regularly take matters into their own hands based on what they perceive as being correct and moral behavior.

Paradise has no doubts that it is her music and lifestyle which has prompted some people in Afghanistan to act so violently towards her.

“Music is the Language that has no border; it can easily travel around the world. In a small community it will have a direct influence on the audience,” she says.

According to Paradise, music is a vital communication tool for reaching the hearts and minds of people, both young and old.

“Hip Hop is the language of the street and people easily understand what the message behind it is. You can choose a topic and talk about it on a beat and people would listen to that to get the message. It’s easier to communicate that way, especially to our own people. There are a lot of problems such as: not being accepted from some parties and people, a lack of security, lack of freedom to make whatever and however music you want, and especially not being supported from the local media in Afghanistan, but however we do believe that music will change the mentality of people and overcome the negative pulses in the society and love will prevail.”

Paradise is personally honoured to be the one to take on these traditional taboos and begin an Afghan hip hop revolution to empower the people.

“It’s so important to me to be the voice of the voiceless,” says Paradise. 

Beside the threats that we have received, we also receive a lot of positive messages encouraging us to keep on and continue what we are doing. We also receive messages telling us our music inspired their father to allow them to freely decide to study at university or even prevent forced marriages. We do receive messages from ladies who wrote to us how they too can rap and we give them some guidance as well.”

The troubles facing Paradise’s passion for music are endless and go far beyond that of dealing with death threats and assaults.

“It’s not an easy job, especially when you see your only supporter is YouTube and Facebook and even your national TVs are not broadcasting your art. But we never give up and continue and follow our dream. A dream of equal life for everyone, regardless of gender and religion, colour or ethnicity; in a peaceful atmosphere.” She explains.

Despite this, Paradise’s passion is her music and she is committed to endeavouring to spread her message of human rights and peace. She believes education to be the most fundamental basic human right for everyone, particularly for young women to have the same equal rights to education as men.

“Some families will dress their daughter as a boy so she can get educated but not only for education, we have seen and been taking care of some girls back in Afghanistan who were dressing like a boy and working on streets (selling flowers or cleaning cars) so they wouldn’t be sexually harassed even at the ages of 6 to 10! This is horrifying but there are a lot of things happening in Afghanistan that people couldn’t even imagine.” She detailed further.

It is for this reason that Paradise and her fiancé have dedicated entire songs to standing up for girls’ rights to education, encouraging families and the government to stand up for education rights for girls in Afghanistan.

To date, Paradise believes her most important song to be “Tragedy of Life.”

“We do believe that music tastes are different in different parts of the world. However, musicians also have a big effect on people and their normal life. Rebellion musicians would definitely feel upset about what is happening to music. Not only about one specific person but also about most music on the air.” She stated.

“Our wish is that our readers will pay more attention for the sake of humanity.”


Image: Screenshot/Youtube.

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The Flaming Lips Held A Concert Where Everyone Was In A Plastic Bubble

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Although many people throughout the United States have started to get back to work, the live entertainment industry is still on hold for the most part.

Some artists and production companies have come up with creative ideas to keep the shows running, but they look nothing like the events of 2019. The most popular style of COVID-era concert this past summer was the drive-in, with many artists touring drive-in theaters that were repurposed as outdoor concert venues.

However, at these shows, everyone is still required to stay in their cars, and it doesn’t feel much like a real concert.

Last week, the popular rock band The Flaming Lips actually played an indoor concert venue but they performed in giant plastic bubbles, and all of the fans in attendance were inside the bubbles also. The show happened at The Criterion in Oklahoma City, where the band used the strange setting to shoot a music video.

The band’s frontman Wayne Coyne told CNN that he came up with the idea when the pandemic began, but didn’t expect the virus to stick around long enough for it to actually be necessary. 

“I did a little drawing… where I drew a picture of The Flaming Lips doing a show in 2019. And I’m the only person in the space bubble, and everybody else is just norma. Then (I did another drawing with) The Flaming Lips playing a show in 2020. The exact same scenario, but I’m in a bubble, and so is everybody else….I don’t think anybody would have thought, in the middle of March that this is still going to be going, you know, eight months later. I think we all thought this is a month, this is maybe two months, but we’re going to get a handle on this,” he said.

The band first revealed the idea on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” back in May, and the reaction inspired them to expand it into a full concert experience.

“We do a couple of songs with about 30 people in the bubbles. And we start to think, ‘Well, you know, just from doing that, we start to get an idea that we could actually do it, you know, and it could actually happen,'” Coyne said.

“Since May, the desire to see the live music has just gotten, you know, more, more amplified,” he added.

Fans Attend The Flaming Lips Concert Inside Plastic Bubbles

The Flaming Lips held a short, two-song concert in Oklahoma City, with fans attending in individual plastic bubbles. The short gig was reportedly ‘half test run for future concerts, half music video shoot.’

Posted by NowThis on Thursday, October 15, 2020

Although this is the first time that they have required their fans to wear them, the band has previously performed in space bubbles, so they knew exactly where to find them.

“I like the way this looks, because you can get as excited as you want, you can scream as much as you want, you just can’t infect the person next to you, no matter what you forget about, how excited you get. That barrier is still there, they’re protected, and you’re protected… that part of it is what we really felt like was the success,” Coyne said.

“We, as The Flaming Lips, we like the idea that we are doing something different…. I think it could be cool. It could be fun. And we could all have a, you know, a crazy unique experience,” he added.

Are Concerts in a Bubble The New Normal? The Flaming Lips Just Pulled It Off

Posted by Melissa Knowles on Friday, October 16, 2020

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University Says Students Intentionally Getting COVID So They Can Sell Their Plasma

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There is a growing concern that people who are desperate for some extra spending money are intentionally getting COVID-19 so they can later sell their plasma. People who have recovered from COVID are encouraged to donate their plasma because their blood will contain antibodies that could help others fight the illness.

The FDA says plasma “may be effective in treating COVID-19 and that the known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks of the product.” 

Administrators at Brigham Young University’s campus in Idaho announced that they were investigating multiple cases of students intentionally getting sick with COVID so they can cash in on their plasma donation. The school has also threatened to suspend any students who are found to intentionally contract the virus.

“BYU-Idaho is deeply troubled by accounts of individuals who have intentionally exposed themselves or others to COVID-19, with the hope of getting the disease and being paid for plasma that contains COVID-19 antibodies…The contraction and spread of COVID-19 is not a light matter. Reckless disregard for health and safety will inevitably lead to additional illness and loss of life in our community,”  the school said in a statement

Each donation site has different offers for potential donors, but East Idaho News found locations close to the school that offered as much as $200 for their first visits. Many of these locations allow people to donate multiple times.

BYU-Idaho is offering financial help and mental health services to students who are feeling desperate.

“If students are struggling, BYU-Idaho stands ready to help. There is never a need to resort to behavior that endangers health or safety in order to make ends meet,” the school said.

However, many people are in situations where they have no choice but to endanger their health to make ends meet, especially people who are forced to deal with the public every day during a pandemic in order to keep a steady paycheck. Tuition alone at BYU runs an average of close to $20,000, which would likely be a factor that would push a person to put themselves in danger for some extra money.

BYU is located in Rexburg, Idaho, which the New York Times recently ranked as a nationwide hotspot. BYU has confirmed 119 active student cases of COVID-19 and 20 active employee cases as of Tuesday. In response to the explosion in cases, the school recently warned that it is considering a switch to remote learning. 

The problem of plasma donation centers preying on poor and desperate people is nothing new. According to ABC, nearly 80 percent of the plasma centers in the U.S. are located in America’s low-income neighborhoods. They also tend to target college students and cluster around college campuses.

Of course, the donation of plasma is important and should be encouraged, but there is also a problem with predatory practices that should not be ignored. The fact that people are putting themselves in danger for a few extra dollars also illustrates how this system is failing people.

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Smoothie Robot In Walmart Signals Continued Rise Of Automated Fast Food Workers

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A robot that makes smoothies was showcased at a Walmart in California signaling the rise of automated workers.

The Mind Unleashed has previously reported on how automated robots were beginning to take over various different jobs, including flipping burgers with Miso Robotics’ Flippy. Now, Walmart has partially got involved in the trend. A new start-up company called, Blendidshowcased its product at the Fremont Walmart in California this week opening a kiosk, Yahoo News reported.

The stall is open seven days a week and is pitched as a way for customers to place contactless orders for a smoothie. Customers place their orders for a 12-ounce delicious drink and then an autonomous robot whips it up. What’s more, the drink is made in just 3 minutes or less from the time it’s placed.

Digital Trends recently questioned the CEO Vipin Jain about how the robot works. Jain explained that customers use an app scanning a simple QR code at the kiosk or via the Blendid app to order. If that doesn’t impress you, how about artificial intelligence that remembers your taste preferences?

“Consumers use their cell phone to order by scanning a QR code at the kiosk or via the Blendid app,” Vipin Jain, Blendid’s CEO and co-founder, told Digital Trends. “They browse our menu of smoothies made from whole fruits, and vegetables. Once they select a drink, they customize it to their personal taste and health preferences, by modifying the amount of each ingredient as desired. Then they place their order, and Blendid robot gets to work preparing their drink. Once the drink is ready, they receive a text with instructions for a contactless drink pickup. The robot serves the drink to them when they confirm the pickup.”

While a robot taking over a job like making a smoothie might seem small, the fact Walmart has an automated kiosk in one of its California stores is a larger signal of the automation trend to come.

In fact, it was previously reported by Fox News in July that, Walmart was looking to remove all cashiers and standard conveyor belt lines from its stores and is testing a pilot in one of its superstores in Fayetteville, Arkansas in the short term.

CNN previously reported that grocers – big and small chains alike – are turning to robots for performing various tasks like cleaning floors, stocking shelves, and delivering groceries to shoppers. The CV crisis could even prompt online retail warehouses like Amazon to invest more into automation technology as well.

Walmart also isn’t the first business to discuss using automation. Last year international fast-food chain McDonald’s reported they would begin employing automated fryer robots throughout their different branches across the world. Former McDonald’s USA CEO Ed Rensi told Fox Business, “It’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries.” McDonald’s has also introduced touchscreen ordering kiosks to some of its stores.

Restaurant chains that are using automation include McDonalds, KFC, Panera, Wendys, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Arbys according to Business Insider.

Robots aren’t just taking over restaurants, a report by the McKinsey Global Institute indicates there are 800 million careers (or 30 percent of the global job force)—from doctors to accountants, lawyers to journalists—that will be lost to automation by 2030. The report concludes that hundreds of millions of people worldwide will have to find new jobs or learn new skills.

A report by the University of Oxford suggests we will face a robot job apocalypse predicting that 47 percent of U.S. jobs are at risk of being replaced by robots and Artificial Intelligence over the next fifteen to twenty years. However, with the current ongoing pandemic workers might find they are replaced quicker. Especially, any type of work that requires physical contact with a customer.

It shouldn’t be surprising for the reader that’s exactly what a report by A3, Association For Advancing Automation, detailed earlier this year. Stating all the ways that artificial intelligence and automation is being used in different industries to combat CV. Oxford Economics also published its own report warning that accelerating technological advances in automation, engineering, energy storage, artificial intelligence, and machine learning have the potential to reshape the world in 2020 through 2030s, displacing at least 20 million workers.

With CV as a catalyst to speed up the deployment of automated machines, we can probably safely say that number will be much more severe. It seems I am not the only one to share that opinion; a recent MarketWatch article written by Johannes Moenius, a professor of global business and the director of the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis at the University of Redlands, agrees with this author’s conclusion stating “at least 50 million jobs could be automated in just essential industries.”

In fact, the Brookings Institution said in a report last month that “any CV-related recession is likely to bring about a spike in labor-replacing automation … Automation happens in bursts, concentrated especially in bad times such as in the wake of economic shocks, when humans become relatively more expensive as firms’ revenues rapidly decline.”

You can watch a video of Blendid in action below.

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