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Claudia Conway’s TikToks, explained



Claudia Conway, much to her displeasure, is trending on Twitter again.

This is not speculation about her feelings: The 15-year-old daughter of former counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway and “Never Trump” Republican attorney George Conway openly dislikes being in the news. “Currently trending on twitter for no apparent reason,” she writes in her TikTok bio. “The media is obsessed.”

And yet Claudia has created a spectacle that is impossible to look away from: Here is a teenager, openly undermining her mother who is already somewhat of a media villain, espousing leftist ideas her parents despise. On her TikTok are jokes about Trump’s refusal to denounce white supremacy, reminders to vote blue in the upcoming election, and conservatives’ most feared slogan: ACAB.

Since this summer, when her anti-Trump, Black Lives Matter, and “Save Barron” TikTok videos went viral, Claudia has been an unexpected and unusually candid political voice. But it is also a voice that is mired in misdirected hero worship among the Twitter #Resistance and complicated by the ethical complexities that come with adults dissecting the messages of a 15-year-old. As Claudia Conway’s TikToks have drawn national attention once again, after she exposed her mother’s coronavirus diagnosis and livestreamed an argument between the two of them, it’s worth asking whether adults should even be talking about Claudia Conway in the first place, and what the media owes her as both a private citizen and a teenage girl seemingly in crisis.

How Claudia Conway revealed her mother’s Covid-19 diagnosis and lit up Twitter

This week, as President Trump and many of the attendees of the White House’s reception for Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination have tested positive for the coronavirus, Claudia’s TikToks contained breaking news. On October 2, she posted a video alleging her mother was “coughing all over the house” after attending the event, and said that Claudia herself was struggling to breathe.

Shortly thereafter, she announced that her mother tested positive before the press did and was cited in major news outlets. She also alluded in a comment that Trump’s condition was worse than he claimed, and in the comments section of one video wrote that Kellyanne had lied to her about the results. “[She] said her test was negative when it literally wasn’t and I spent all day around her,” Claudia wrote. A few days later, she posted a video of herself in the bathtub captioned with “hey guys currently dying of covid!”

Then, on the evening of October 5, she posted another video, in which her mother’s voice can be heard. “Little clarification from my previous posts,” she wrote. “My mother claims that she did not lie to me. She had three tests done. First negative, second two positive. We were not in communication. I misinterpreted it.” In the background of the video, Kellyanne says, “Do it now,” to which Claudia says, “I am, I’m doing it right now,” referring to filming the video. “Say, ‘Correction, my mom had three tests,’” Kellyanne coaches her.

This most intimate look at the Conway family dynamics would ultimately be deleted, however. In a TikTok that viewers shared to Twitter before it was removed, Kellyanne can be heard saying, “You’ve caused so much disruption. You lied about your fucking mother about Covid? About Covid?”

Unsurprisingly, the rather salacious glimpse of a high-profile mother-daughter relationship set Twitter aflame, with left-leaning adults praising Claudia as an American hero and a better journalist than Bob Woodward. “HELP I can’t stop watching Claudia Conway argue with her mom,” wrote Twitter employee Sam Stryker.

Our hero worship of Claudia Conway is misguided and harmful

The resounding response to Claudia Conway’s public image is that she’s a spunky teenage maverick perfectly suited to destroy the Republican party from within. But to lift her up as a hero or as some kind of entity fated to save us from the collapse of American politics is to ignore what she and every other Gen Z supposed savior are asking for. As Miles Klee writes in Mel magazine, “If you actually listen to [Greta] Thunberg and the Parkland group, you won’t necessarily hear how they plan to enact systemic change. Instead, they are telling the adults to get their act together, and wondering why it has fallen to the youth to voice any call to virtuous action.”

Claudia’s videos, ultimately, are a cry for help, from both the larger American electorate and the people in her life. Claudia has repeatedly spoken about her desire to emancipate from her parents and has alleged verbal and physical abuse from both her mother and father. “My dad doesn’t care about me,” she said in the same video. “He probably doesn’t even know my middle name.” In one particularly heartbreaking TikTok, Claudia asks for tips on how to stop dissociating because “nothing feels real” while tears stream down her face. And in a recent livestream, she told her followers in code that “I’m on live right now because I’m scared of my mom.”

Teenagers denouncing their parents on the internet is not a new phenomenon; it’s just that most of the time, they do it in spaces separate from the adult internet, the public one where every tweet is grounds for debate. Many kids keep their Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok accounts private; others have secret finstas where they allow only a small portion of their regular followers access to more private or experimental thoughts.

That’s how one might expect the leftist daughter of two conservative political figures to express her angst and frustration about being born into such a family. We tend to assume that most internal familial controversy exists in the shadows, out of public view (or if they are high-profile enough, to be dissected decades later in overdramatized six-part Netflix documentaries).

Claudia Conway, however, has made all of this public. Though she often deletes past posts, many of her most inflammatory TikToks and tweets have remained out in the open. It’s as jarring of a phenomenon to witness as it was when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle surrendered their “royal highness” titles — for once, the disputes are laid bare.

The question is: What are adults on the internet who watch these videos supposed to do about it? Many have stressed that, because Claudia is just 15 and clearly dealing with unimaginable pressure and attention, she deserves privacy, and she does. Claudia herself, while acknowledging her appreciation of her more than 1 million followers, would likely agree. “Why is the media so obsessed with everything a 15-year-old girl has to say?” she asks in one TikTok.

This is the uneasy paradox of Claudia Conway: How could the media not be interested in what she has to say? Claudia is just one of a new generation of leftist daughters of more conservative politicians, a cohort that includes 23-year-old Stephanie Regan, who tweeted “Do not vote for my dad” ahead of Robert Regan’s Michigan campaign for State Legislature, and 25-year-old Chiara DeBlasio, who was arrested at a Black Lives Matter protest in New York City, where her father is its mayor, Bill DeBlasio. Of the three, Claudia is by far the most outspoken online, and has made use of the platform closely associated with teenage rebellion. She responds often to comments, and much like within the #FreeBritney movement, viewers theorize about her well-being using context clues.

At times, the Conways seem like any other family where parents and children disagree on political views. In an interview with Business Insider (during which her parents were also in the room), Claudia explained that “My mom is my best friend but we do fight all the time over politics, and I’m always shut down by my entire family.” While her mother had asked her to take down some of the videos, she’d “respectfully declined” to do so. What teenager hasn’t argued with their family over politics, or had a parent monitor their social media accounts? And by all measures, Claudia’s social media presence is barely different from other girls’ her age — there are politics, sure, but there are also regular photos of a normal high schooler living her life.

Perhaps this is what we should glean from Claudia: Her cries for help, her worrisome and sometimes contradictory statements about her family, and her frustration at American politics are not interesting because they are abnormal, they’re interesting because they’re relatable. Young people should be allowed to be outspoken, rebellious, emotional, and even inconsistent on the internet without the social media machine elevating it to something more than it is.

While we, the audience, have no ability — nor do we have any right — to “save” or “free” Claudia from her family situation, we do have a duty to take her and every other young person’s plea for a better country and a better system seriously. Of course teenagers are getting loud online. After all, the internet is the only place where they have a real say.

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Seychelles opposition candidate wins presidential election



Ramkalawan, running for the presidency for the sixth time, won 54.9 percent of valid votes cast, poll body says.

Seychelles opposition candidate Wavel Ramkalawan has won the archipelago’s presidential election with 54.9 percent of valid votes cast, upsetting incumbent President Danny Faure.

“I declare… Ramkalawan as the elected candidate,” the electoral commission chairman Danny Lucas said on Sunday.

Voters on the main islands of Seychelles cast their ballot on Saturday in presidential and parliamentary elections spanning three days.

More than 74,000 registered to take part in the polls.

The opposition, narrowly defeated in a presidential election in 2015 and buoyed by a landmark victory in a parliamentary poll a year later, won its first presidential poll in the 40 years since Seychelles gained independence from Britain.

Ramkalawan, an Anglican priest and leader of the Seychelles Democratic Alliance, was running for the presidency for the sixth time. He lost the 2015 poll by 193 votes to James Michel in an unprecedented second round of voting.

The campaign took place mainly over social media, with rallies banned due to the coronavirus.

Seychelles has recorded only 149 cases, mostly imported, but the pandemic has been a burning campaign issue as restrictions on global travel bottom out the tourism industry – a major earner for Seychelles and employer for many of its 98,000 people.

Visitor numbers have collapsed since March in the archipelago nation of 115 islands, normally a popular destination for honeymooners and paradise-seekers drawn by its fine sandy beaches and turquoise waters.


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Thousands of seals found dead at breeding colony in Namibia



Cause of mass die-off unknown but scientists suspect pollutants, bacterial infection, or malnutrition.

An estimated 7,000 Cape fur seals have been discovered dead at a breeding colony in central Namibia.

Conservationist Naude Dreyer of the charity Ocean Conservation Namibia (OCN) began noticing dead seals on the sandy beaches of Pelican Point colony – a tourist destination known for its colony of seals and schools of dolphins – near Walvis Bay city in September.

In the first two weeks of October, he found large numbers of seal foetuses at the colony.

Tess Gridley from the Namibian Dolphin Project estimated that between 5,000 and 7,000 female seals had miscarried young with more still being found.

Last week, there was a spike in the number of dead adult females, Dreyer said.

“What we have been observing is less freshly dead seal pups and a lot of dead female adults,” he said.

Fur seals normally give birth between mid-November and mid-December.

The cause of the mass die-off is yet to be established but scientists suspect anything from pollutants or bacterial infection to malnutrition.

Some of the dead females found were “thin-looking, emaciated, with very little fat reserves”, said Gridley.

In 1994, some 10,000 seals died and 15,000 foetuses were aborted in a mass die-off that was linked to starvation suspected to have resulted from a shortage of fish as well as from a bacterial infection at another breeding colony, the Cape Cross, some 116km (72 miles) north of the central tourist town Swakopmund.

Annely Haiphene, executive director in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources,  told AFP news agency she suspected the seals died from “lack of food” but will wait for the outcome of the tests.


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Treaty banning nuclear weapons to enter into force



Fifty countries have ratified an international treaty to ban nuclear weapons, the United Nations has announced, allowing the “historic” text to enter into force in 90 days.

Honduras became the 50th country to ratify the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), the UN said on Saturday, in a move hailed by anti-nuclear activists but strongly opposed by the United States and the other major nuclear powers.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres commended the 50 states and saluted “the instrumental work” of civil society in facilitating negotiations and pushing for ratification, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Saturday.

The UN chief said the treaty’s entry into force on January 22, 2021, crowns a worldwide movement “to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons” and “is a tribute to the survivors of nuclear explosions and tests, many of whom advocated for this treaty”.

According to Dujarric, Guterres also said the treaty “represents a meaningful commitment towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, which remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations”.

‘UN at its best’

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose work helped spearhead the nuclear ban treaty, called the development a “historic milestone”.

“This moment has been 75 years coming since the horrific attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the founding of the UN which made nuclear disarmament a cornerstone,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of ICAN.

“The 50 countries that ratify this Treaty are showing true leadership in setting a new international norm that nuclear weapons are not just immoral but illegal,” she said.

The 50th ratification came on the 75th anniversary of UN Day, commemorating the ratification of the Charter of the United Nations, which officially established the UN.

“The United Nations was formed to promote peace with a goal of the abolition of nuclear weapons,” Fihn said. “This treaty is the UN at its best – working closely with civil society to bring democracy to disarmament.”

The treaty requires that all ratifying countries “never under any circumstances … develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” It also bans any transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices – as well as threatening to use such weapons – and requires parties to promote the treaty to other countries.

Once it enters into force, all countries that have ratified it will be bound by those requirements.

The group of nuclear-armed states, including Britain, China, France, Russia and the US, have not signed the treaty.

However, campaigners hope that it coming into force will have the same impact as previous international treaties on landmines and cluster munitions, bringing a stigma to their stockpiling and use, and thereby a change in behaviour even in countries that did not sign up.

‘Strategic error’

The US had written to treaty signatories saying the administration of US President Donald Trump believes they made “a strategic error” and urging them to rescind their ratification.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press news agency, claimed the new treaty was “dangerous” to the half-century-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which sought to prevent the spread of nuclear arms beyond the five original weapons powers.

Fihn dismissed the claim, saying: “There’s no way you can undermine the Nonproliferation Treaty by banning nuclear weapons. It’s the end goal of the Nonproliferation Treaty.”

Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said: “The simple reality is that the international community could never hope to deal with the consequences of a nuclear confrontation. No nation is prepared to deal with a nuclear confrontation. What we cannot prepare for, we must prevent.”

There are more than 14,000 nuclear bombs in the world, thousands of which are ready to be launched in an instant, Rocca said. The power of many of those warheads is tens of times greater than the weapons dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima, who has been an ardent campaigner for the treaty, said: “When I learned that we reached our 50th ratification, I was not able to stand.”

“I remained in my chair and put my head in my hands and I cried tears of joy,” she said in a statement. “I have committed my life to the abolition of nuclear weapons. I have nothing but gratitude for all who have worked for the success of our treaty.”


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