Ted Cruz Australia
via Gage Skidmore/Flickr and Terry Morgan/Flickr

Senator Ted Cruz and a kangaroo.

Conservative media in the United States has painted Australia as a state on the brink of authoritarianism due to strict COVID-19 protections in some parts of the country. These news outlets appear to be using the country as an example of what can happen in America if liberal politicians go unchecked.

Fox News' Tucker Carlson ran a story on Australia earlier this month claiming the country "looks a lot like China did at the beginning of the pandemic." He ended it by saying that "what's happening in Australia might be instructive to us in the United States" and that things can "change very quickly" and become "dystopian and autocratic."

Carlson provides zero reasons why Americans should be fearful of becoming an autocratic country due to COVID-19, beyond the idea that "things can change very quickly" so his appeals sound a lot more like fear-mongering than genuine concern.


Florida governor Ron De Santis–whose state's COVID-19 death rate is some 50 times Australia's–suggested that the U.S. should reconsider its diplomatic relations with Australia, asking whether it was freer than China.

While conservative media in the U.S. bemoans the state of Australia, people living Down Under don't care much for their concerns. Polls show that the vast majority of Australians support vaccine mandates, presumably because they don't want their fellow countrymen to die.

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz got in on the Australia bashing last week when he posted a tweet featuring a video of Australia's Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner announcing the country's latest vaccine mandates.

Gunner had announced that anyone who serves the public in hospitality, gyms, retail or any other customer-facing industries must get their first coronavirus vaccine within a month or face a $3,750 (5000 Australian dollars) fine.

"I love the Aussies. Their history of rugged independence is legendary; I've always said Australia is the Texas of the Pacific," Cruz wrote before adding, "The Covid tyranny of their current government is disgraceful and sad. Individual liberty matters. I stand with the people of Australia."

Gunner responded to Cruz on Twitter, educating him on the effectiveness of vaccines and how compared to Australia, Texas is a complete disaster when it comes to protecting people from the virus.

"Hey Ted Cruz, g'day from the Northern Territory in Australia. Here are some facts. Nearly 70,000 Texans have tragically died from COVID. There have been zero deaths in the Territory. Did you know that?" he wrote before adding, "Vaccination is so important here because we have vulnerable communities and the oldest continuous living culture on the planet to protect. Did you know that?"

He then added, "We don't need your lectures, thanks mate. You know nothing about us. And if you stand against a life-saving vaccine, then you sure as hell don't stand with Australia. I love Texas (go Longhorns), but when it comes to COVID, I'm glad we are nothing like you."

The difference between Texas and Australia is staggering when it comes to the number of people who've died due to COVID-19. Australia has a population of 25.7 million and has had 147,275 total cases and 1,558 total deaths due to COVID-19.

Texas, on the other hand, has a similar population of 29 million but has 3,474,092 cases and 68,043 fatalities. That's more than 45 times the death rate.

Cruz can bash Australia all he wants, but if he actually loved the people of Texas, he'd care a bit more about their health. Few people have much use for liberty when they're dead or stuck on a ventilator.

Jimmy Fallon #MyFamilyIsWeird.

It’s that time of year again, the holiday season is when we get the pleasure of spending way more time than we’re used to with our families. For those of us who’ve moved away from our immediate families, the holidays are a great time to reacquaint ourselves with old traditions and to realize that some of them may be a little strange.

Every family seems to have its own brand of weirdness. In fact, I wouldn’t trust anyone who says that their family is completely normal.

On November 18, “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon gave everyone a reason to celebrate their unique families by asking them to share their favorite stories under #MyFamilyIsWeird. The responses were everything from odd holiday traditions to family members that may have a screw (or two!) loose.

Here are 17 of the funniest responses.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Bono, Dave Grohl, Ariana Grande

Director Peter Jackson’s new 468-minute Beatles documentary “Get Back” is a landmark achievement. It’s an in-depth, warts-and-all glimpse into the creative process of four of the most important musicians and cultural figures of the past 100 years.

The crazy thing is that’s not even an overstatement. Watching the Beatles pull tunes from the ether and then work them into some of the most enduring songs in the history of popular music is revelatory.

Like when Paul McCartney strums his way into writing “Get Back.”

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