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Political Calendar: Week of March 12, 2023

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Political Calendar: Week of February 5, 2023

Send notices of your events to [email protected]. Editor’s Note: Due to the covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and CDC recommendations for social distancing, many events are still being held virtually online. We are doing our best to update the calendar, but you should check with event organizers prior to attending any event to confirm the status. 

Political Calendar for the Week of March 12, 2023:

Sunday, March 12: Daylight Savings Time begins. Check your TV schedule.

Sunday, March 12: Selection Sunday for NCAA Basketball Tournaments.

Democrats of Greater Tucson logoMonday, March 13, Noon: Democrats of Greater Tucson ONLINE MEETING March 13:  Featured speaker is Tucson City Council Member Nikki Lee. Register in advance. Meanwhile, you can also watch more than 130 Videos of Candidates and Speakers at  of Greater Tucson.

Monday, March 13, 5:30 p.m.:  Legislative District 19 meeting. Meet the second Monday of each month. For more information please contact Chair Matthew Boyd at [email protected].

Monday, March 13, 6:30 p.m.: Democrats of Oro Valley meeting. Meet the second Monday of each month. For more information see our Facebook page or demsov.org.

Monday, March 13, 7:00 p.m.: Democrats of the Highlands at Dove Mountain meeting, in the Dove Mountain Clubhouse Catalina Room II, 4949 W. Heritage Club Blvd., Marana. For more information see our Facebook page.

Tuesday, March 14, Noon: Democrats of Rim Country meeting, at Tiny’s Family Restaurant, 600 Arizona Hwy. 260, Payson, AZ. Meet the second Tuesday of each month. For more information please email us at [email protected].

Tuesday, March 14, 3:30 p.m.: Saddlebrooke Democrats meeting, at SaddleBrooke Activities Center, 64518 E. Galveston Lane (Saddlebrooke). Meet the second Tuesday of each month. For more information please contact Steve Groth at (520) 385-6686 or check our web site. SaddleBrookeDemocrats.org.

Tuesday, March 14, 5:00 p.m.: Democrats of the Picture Rocks meeting, via zoom. Meet the second Tuesday of each month. Contact us by email at [email protected] for more information.

Tuesday, March 14, 6:30 p.m.: Legislative District 23 meeting. Meet the second Tuesday of each month. To access the Zoom link for these virtual meetings, please join our email list. Join us for our monthy happy hour on the last Friday of every month at 6:30 p.m. Email contact form.

Wednesday, March 15 – Sunday, March 19: Pinal County Fair.

Wednesday, March 15, 4:00 p.m.: Drinking Democratically Happy Hour with DGT, at Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon & BBQ, 1801 N Stone Ave, Tucson. Join us for the camaraderie with Democrats of Greater Tucson. It’s a wonderful opportunity to talk with and enjoy the company of fellow Democrats. Invite your friends! We have space reserved in the Bourbon Lounge inside. Their Social Hour menu includes drinks and food specials. You can view the menu at their website: Brother John’s menu. Please register for free tickets through Eventbrite (stay tuned for link) so that we can give Brother John’s an estimate of expected attendance, so they can staff appropriately.

Wednesday, March 15, 6:00 p.m.: Graham County Democratic Party meeting. Meet the third Wednesday of each month. Meet via Zoom. For more information. please visit our web page, or visit our Facebook Page.

Wednesday, March 15, 6:30 p.m.: Legislative District 17 meeting. Meet the third Wednesday of each month. For more information please contact Larry Waggoner, Chair at [email protected].

Wednesday, March 15, 6:30 p.m.: Copa City Democrats meeting, location varies. For more information please contact Constance Jackson at [email protected].

Thursday, March 16: First Round games of NCAA men’s basketball tournament, March Madness begins.

Thursday, March 16, 10:00 a.m.: Democrats of the Red Rocks Breakfast on Zoom. Free.  Register in Advance. Meet the third Thursday of each month. Visit our web page.

Thursday, March 16, 6:30 p.m.: Yavapai County Democratic Party meeting, details TBA.

Friday, March 17: St. Patrick’s Day.

Friday, March 17, 6:00 p.m.: Gila County Democratic Party general meeting, at the Gila Dems Office, 110 E. Bonita Street, Payson, AZ. Meet the third Friday of each month. For more information please visit our web page, or Facebook Page, email us at [email protected], or call our office 928-363-1808.

Saturday, March 18, 10:00 a.m.: Pima County Democratic Party African-American Caucus meeting, at Grace Temple Baptist Church, 1020 E. 31st Street, Tucson. Meet the third Saturday of each month. The caucus is not exclusively for African-Americans, all are welcome to join. For more information please contact Connie DeLarge at [email protected]or (520) 241-8408.

Saturday, March 18, 1:00 p.m.: San Tan Valley Democrats meeting, meet virtually. Meet the third Saturday of each month. Please email group for details: [email protected], or phone: 480-630-9092.

Saturday, March 18, 1:30 p.m.: Copa City Democrats meeting. Meetings are every third Saturday of the month. Receive the link through Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/2963579027298825, or email Tony at [email protected].

Special Announcements:

Green Valley Democrats Current Events Discussion Group

Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m.:  Green Valley Democrats fka Democratic Club of the Santa Rita Area meets on Zoom at 10:00 – 11:30. To join the Discussion Group please send your name to  [email protected]. Join us at the weekly meeting of the Democratic Headquarters Current Events Discussion Group. We’ll talk about some of the major events of the previous week, including but not limited to political topics, and try and go behind the news for a deeper understanding. For more information, please contact Jean Vickers [email protected].

Drinking Liberally

Third Wednesday of each month, 6:00 p.m.: Drinking Liberally at The Shanty, 401 E. 9th Street, Tucson. We need to know by the morning of each meeting approximately how many folks will attend. Please RSVP to [email protected]. Informal but thoughtful conversation. As a reminder, The Shanty does not serve food (yes, there is popcorn), so please feel free to bring your own or order in, all allowed at The Shanty. There is no obligation to order anything–but as a thank you to our host, I hope everyone will order at least one drink(alcoholic or otherwise).

LD 18 St. Patrick’s Day Party, Pot Luck and Fundraiser

Political Calendar Week of March 12 2023Sunday, March 19, Noon: LD 18 St. Patrick’s Day Party, Pot Luck and Fundraiser. Party location near Oracle and Orange Grove will be disclosed following ticket purchase. Sales will open to all Democrats in one week. Seating is limited to the first 150 ticket buyers. Tickets: $25, purchase secure on ActBlue. All proceeds go to LD18 Democrats.

Tuesday, March 21, 10:30 a.m.: Democratic Women of Southeastern Arizona meeting, at Rothery Education Center on Fry Boulevard, Northern most building closest to Veterans Park, Sierra Vista. Meet the third Tuesday of each month. For more information email us at [email protected]​ Visit our web page. Democratic Women of Southeastern Arizona.

Wednesday, March 22, 11:30 a.m.: Democratic Women of the Prescott Area meeting, New Time and Place! The Resort at Prescott. Details TBA. Funds raised through this event support Democratic Women of the Prescott Area. Cost of Luncheon $25.  Cancellations for reservations must be received 24 hours in advance! Attendees will be billed if they cancel on the day of the event. Meet the fourth Wednesday of each month. Visit our web page.

Wednesday, March 22, 5:00 p.m.: Legislative District 19 meeting. Meet the fourth Wednesday of each month. For more information please contact Matthew Boyd, Chair at [email protected].

Thursday, March 23, 6:30 p.m.:  Casa Grande Democrats meeting. Meet via Zoom, so please call this number or send an email to this contact information to receive a registration link: (520) 251-8247 or [email protected]. Meet the fourth Thursday of each month. Please visit our web page.

Friday, March 24 – Sunday, March 26: Fourth Avenue Spring Street Fair in Tucson.

Saturday, March 25, 10:00 a.m.:  Northern Cochise County Democratic Club meeting at the Raphael-in-the-Valley Episcopal-Lutheran Church, 730 S. Hwy 80, Benson AZ.Meet the Fourth Saturday of each month. For more information please contact Kathy Suagee at [email protected]. Visit our web page Northern Cochise County Democrats.

Monday, March 27, 6:00 p.m.: Legislative District 20 meeting. Meet the fourth Monday of each month. For more information please visit our LD 20 website.

Tuesday, March 28, 4:30 p.m.: Democratic Club of the Saddlebrook Ranch meeting, at 59680 E. Robson Circle, Oracle. Meet the fourth Tuesday of each month. Pease contact Matt Nelson at [email protected], or (651) 414-1334.

Tuesday, March 28, 6:30 p.m.: Legislative District 18 meeting. Meet the fourth Tuesday of each month. For more information please contact Larry Bodine, Chair at [email protected].

Thursday, March 30: Opening Day of 2023 MLB season.

Friday, March 31: Cesar Chavez Day.

Friday, March 31 – Sunday, April 2: 38th Annual Tucson Folk Festival. The festival features five stages with a range of ways to enjoy and watch the festival, including a free livestream broadcast! All five stages will feature over 125 live performances throughout the weekend including National Headliners, Local and Regional Acoustic Acts, Songwriting Competition winners, Family Show Entertainment, and Young Artist Showcases! The Tucson Folk Festival is a FREE.

Saturday, April 1 – Sunday, April 2: Phoenix Pride.

Saturday, April 1, 11:00 a.m.: Greater Huachuca Area Democrats meeting virtual on Zoom (soon at a designated restaurant in Serra Vista). Meet the first Saturday of each month. For more information, please email [email protected], or phone (520) 329-2253.

Saturday, April 1: NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four games, from NRG stadium, Houston, TX.

Monday, April 3: NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game.

Tuesday, April 4 – Sunday, April 9: Yuma County Fair.

Wednesday, April 5: Passover begins.

Out Brunch sponsored by Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation

Saturday, April 8, 9:30 a.m.: Out Brunch sponsored by Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation, at the HighWire Premier Bar & Restaurant, 14 S. Arizona Avenue, Tucson. Out Brunch returns as a brunch event this year! Join us as we celebrate 4 deserving awardees. Tickets are on sale now, but they are limited, so you’ve better hurry!
Tickets $60. Register in Advance.

Saturday, April 8, 9:30 a.m.: Tanque Verde Valley Democrats meeting. Usually meet the second Saturday of each month. For more information visit our web site. Tanque Verde Valley Democratic Club.

Saturday, April 8, 10:00 a.m.: Mule Mountain Democrats meeting, at the Community Y, 26 Howell Avenue, Old Bisbee. Meet the second Saturday of each month. For more information e-mail Sandy Hummingbird at [email protected], or visit our web page Mule Mountain Democrats.

Saturday, April 8, 10:00 a.m.: Coconino County Democratic Party meeting, at the Murdoch Community Center, 203 E. Brannen Avenue, Flagstaff. Also on Zoom. Meet the second Saturday of each month. For more information please call (928) 214-0393 or email [email protected], or viit our web page coconinodemocrats.org.

Saturday, April 8, 1:00 p.m.: Sun City Democrats of Oro Valley meeting, in the Navajo Room of the Activity Center, 1495 Rancho Vistoso Blvd., Sun City. Meet the second Saturday of each month. For more information lease contact Maureen Salz [email protected].

Saturday, April 8, 3:00 p.m.: Green Valley Democrats fka Democratic Club of the Santa Rita Area meeting.
Political Calendar Week of March 12 2023For more information please see our Facebook page or greenvalleydemocrats.org.

Sunday, April 9: Easter Sunday.

Monday, April 10, 5:30 p.m.:  Legislative District 19 meeting. Meet the second Monday of each month. For more information please contact Chair Matthew Boyd at [email protected].

Monday, April 10, 6:30 p.m.: Democrats of Oro Valley meeting. Meet the second Monday of each month. For more information see our Facebook page or demsov.org.

Monday, April 10, 7:00 p.m.: Democrats of the Highlands at Dove Mountain meeting, in the Dove Mountain Clubhouse Catalina Room II, 4949 W. Heritage Club Blvd., Marana. For more information see our Facebook page.

Tuesday, April 11, Noon: Democrats of Rim Country meeting, at Tiny’s Family Restaurant, 600 Arizona Hwy. 260, Payson, AZ. Meet the second Tuesday of each month. For more information please email us at [email protected].

Tuesday, April 11, 3:30 p.m.: Saddlebrooke Democrats meeting, at SaddleBrooke Activities Center, 64518 E. Galveston Lane (Saddlebrooke). Meet the second Tuesday of each month. For more information please contact Steve Groth at (520) 385-6686 or check our web site. SaddleBrookeDemocrats.org.

Tuesday, April 11, 5:00 p.m.: Democrats of the Picture Rocks meeting, via zoom. Meet the second Tuesday of each month. Contact us by email at [email protected] for more information.

Tuesday, April 11, 6:30 p.m.: Legislative District 23 meeting. Meet the second Tuesday of each month. To access the Zoom link for these virtual meetings, please join our email list. Join us for our monthy happy hour on the last Friday of every month at 6:30 p.m. Email contact form.

Wednesday, April 12, 5:30 pm.: Legislative District 21 meeting. Meet the second Wednesday of  each month. For more information, please contact Jacqui Bauer, Chair at [email protected].

Wednesday, April 12, 6:30 p.m.: Marana Dems & Friends meeting. To request the Zoom meeting invitation send an email to: [email protected]. Meet the second Wednesday of each month. Visit our Facebook Page.

Thursday,April 13: The Yuma County Democrats meet the second Thursday of every month, currently on Zoom due to the Pandemic. Meetings are open to the public. For information on how to attend sign up for our newsletter or email [email protected].

Thursday, April 13, 5:30 p.m.: Pima County Democratic Party Nucleus Club meeting, at the DoubleTree – Reid Park Hotel, 445 S. Alvernon Way, Tucson. Meet the second Thursday of each month. Non-members will be asked to make a contribution of $20 at the door or in advance. For more information, contact Nucleus Club at Pima County Democratic Headquarters (520) 326-3716.

Thursday, April 13, 5:30 p.m.: Pima County Democratic Party Disability Caucus meeting, at Direct Center, 1001 N. Alvernon Way, Tucson. Monthly meeting of the Disability Caucus. Open to the public. For more information please contact Contact Carol Brown (520) 325-9874.

Saturday, April 15: MLB’s Jackie Robinson Day.

Sunday, April 16, 9:00 a.m.: Spring Cyclovia Tucson. This is s car-free, bike friendly event, with people also using tricycles, scooters, wheelchairs, strollers, wagons, skates, hiking boots, etc. to enjoy the pedestrian/bike dominated streets along a set route in Tucson. Info and activity booths along the route for Spring 2023 will be between the Lost Barrio on Park Avenue South of Broadway Blvd. and Himmel Park south of Speedway Blvd.

Pima County Democratic Party’s Desert Bloom Champagne Brunch Fundraiser

Sunday, April 16, 10:00 a.m.: Pima County Democratic Party’s Desert Bloom Champagne Brunch, at the Desert Diamond Casino, 7350 S. Nogales Hwy., Tucson. We have some fabulous speakers lined up – get your tickets today!

Tuesday, April 18: Tax Day.

Tuesday, April 18: Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Wednesday, April 19, 6:00 p.m.: Graham County Democratic Party meeting. Meet the third Wednesday of each month. Meet via Zoom. For more information. please visit our web page, or visit our Facebook Page.

Wednesday, April 19, 6:30 p.m.: Legislative District 17 meeting. Meet the third Wednesday of each month. For more information please contact Larry Waggoner, Chair at [email protected].

Wednesday, April 19, 6:30 p.m.: Copa City Democrats meeting, location varies. For more information please contact Constance Jackson at [email protected].

Wednesday, April 19 – Sunday, April, 23:Tucson International Mariachi Conference, at the Tucson Convention Center. The Tucson International Mariachi Conference Espectacular Concert is Saturday, April 22, 7:00 p.m. in the TCC Linda Rondstadt Music Hall. Purchase tickets through TCC or ticket master.

Thursday, April 20 – Sunday, April 30: Pima County Fair.

Thursday, April 20, 10:00 a.m.: Democrats of the Red Rocks Breakfast on Zoom. Free.  Register in Advance. Meet the third Thursday of each month. Visit our web page.

Thursday, April 20, 6:30 p.m.: Yavapai County Democratic Party meeting, details TBA.

Friday, April 21, 6:00 p.m.: Gila County Democratic Party general meeting, at the Gila Dems Office, 110 E. Bonita Street, Payson, AZ. Meet the third Friday of each month. For more information please visit our web page, or Facebook Page, email us at [email protected], or call our office 928-363-1808.

Saturday, April 22: Earth Day.

Saturday, April 22: Tucson Children’s Museum Earth Day. FREE Community Event.Come discover all the ways to help make your world a healthier, greener place to live. How to recycle and how composting works, the joys of gardening and how fun it is to enjoy nature. Or learn how to bring nature to your backyard with exhibits from local wildlife groups. There will be exhibitors and activities outside the Museum for all ages. Adults with children are welcome inside the courtyard and the Museum for more kid-centric activities.

Saturday, April 22, 10:00 a.m.: Pima County Democratic Party African-American Caucus meeting, at Grace Temple Baptist Church, 1020 E. 31st Street, Tucson. Meet the third Saturday of each month. The caucus is not exclusively for African-Americans, all are welcome to join. For more information please contact Connie DeLarge at [email protected]or (520) 241-8408.

Saturday, April 22, 1:00 p.m.: San Tan Valley Democrats meeting, meet virtually. Meet the third Saturday of each month. Please email group for details: [email protected], or phone: 480-630-9092.

Saturday, April 22, 1:30 p.m.: Copa City Democrats meeting. Meetings are every third Saturday of the month. Receive the link through Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/2963579027298825, or email Tony at [email protected].

Monday, April 24, 6:00 p.m.: Legislative District 20 meeting. Meet the fourth Monday of each month. For more information please visit our LD 20 website.

Tuesday, April 24, 4:30 p.m.: Democratic Club of the Saddlebrook Ranch meeting, at 59680 E. Robson Circle, Oracle. Meet the fourth Tuesday of each month. Pease contact Matt Nelson at [email protected], or (651) 414-1334.

Tuesday, April 25, 6:30 p.m.: Legislative District 18 meeting. Meet the fourth Tuesday of each month. For more information please contact Larry Bodine, Chair at [email protected].

Sunday, April 28: International Workers’ Memorial Day.

Monday, May 1: International Workers’ Day.

Wednesday, May 3 – Sunday, May 7: Verde Valley Fair.

Friday, May 5: Cinco de Mayo.

Sunday May 14: Mother’s Day.

Saturday, May 20: Armed Forces Day.

Monday, May 29: Memorial Day.



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Christian family goes in hiding after being cleared of blasphemy

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Christian family goes in hiding after being cleared of blasphemy

LAHORE, Pakistan — A court in Pakistan granted bail to a Christian falsely charged with blasphemy, but he and his family have separated and gone into hiding amid threats to their lives, sources said.

Haroon Shahzad (right) with attorney Aneeqa Maria. | The Voice Society/Morning Star News

Haroon Shahzad, 45, was released from Sargodha District Jail on Nov. 15, said his attorney, Aneeqa Maria. Shahzad was charged with blasphemy on June 30 after posting Bible verses on Facebook that infuriated Muslims, causing dozens of Christian families in Chak 49 Shumaali, near Sargodha in Punjab Province, to flee their homes.

Lahore High Court Judge Ali Baqir Najfi granted bail on Nov. 6, but the decision and his release on Nov. 15 were not made public until now due to security fears for his life, Maria said.

Shahzad told Morning Star News by telephone from an undisclosed location that the false accusation has changed his family’s lives forever.

“My family has been on the run from the time I was implicated in this false charge and arrested by the police under mob pressure,” Shahzad told Morning Star News. “My eldest daughter had just started her second year in college, but it’s been more than four months now that she hasn’t been able to return to her institution. My other children are also unable to resume their education as my family is compelled to change their location after 15-20 days as a security precaution.”

Though he was not tortured during incarceration, he said, the pain of being away from his family and thinking about their well-being and safety gave him countless sleepless nights.

“All of this is due to the fact that the complainant, Imran Ladhar, has widely shared my photo on social media and declared me liable for death for alleged blasphemy,” he said in a choked voice. “As soon as Ladhar heard about my bail, he and his accomplices started gathering people in the village and incited them against me and my family. He’s trying his best to ensure that we are never able to go back to the village.”

Shahzad has met with his family only once since his release on bail, and they are unable to return to their village in the foreseeable future, he said.

“We are not together,” he told Morning Star News. “They are living at a relative’s house while I’m taking refuge elsewhere. I don’t know when this agonizing situation will come to an end.”

The Christian said the complainant, said to be a member of Islamist extremist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan and also allegedly connected with banned terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, filed the charge because of a grudge. Shahzad said he and his family had obtained valuable government land and allotted it for construction of a church building, and Ladhar and others had filed multiple cases against the allotment and lost all of them after a four-year legal battle.

“Another probable reason for Ladhar’s jealousy could be that we were financially better off than most Christian families of the village,” he said. “I was running a successful paint business in Sargodha city, but that too has shut down due to this case.”

Regarding the social media post, Shahzad said he had no intention of hurting Muslim sentiments by sharing the biblical verse on his Facebook page.

“I posted the verse a week before Eid Al Adha [Feast of the Sacrifice] but I had no idea that it would be used to target me and my family,” he said. “In fact, when I came to know that Ladhar was provoking the villagers against me, I deleted the post and decided to meet the village elders to explain my position.”

The village elders were already influenced by Ladhar and refused to listen to him, Shahzad said.

“I was left with no option but to flee the village when I heard that Ladhar was amassing a mob to attack me,” he said.

Shahzad pleaded with government authorities for justice, saying he should not be punished for sharing a verse from the Bible that in no way constituted blasphemy.

Similar to other cases

Shahzad’s attorney, Maria, told Morning Star News that events in Shahzad’s case were similar to other blasphemy cases filed against Christians.

“Defective investigation, mala fide on the part of the police and complainant, violent protests against the accused persons and threats to them and their families, forcing their displacement from their ancestral areas, have become hallmarks of all blasphemy allegations in Pakistan,” said Maria, head of The Voice Society, a Christian paralegal organization.

She said that the case filed against Shahzad was gross violation of Section 196 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which states that police cannot register a case under the Section 295-A blasphemy statute against a private citizen without the approval of the provincial government or federal agencies.

Maria added that Shahzad and his family have continued to suffer even though there was no evidence of blasphemy.

“The social stigma attached with a blasphemy accusation will likely have a long-lasting impact on their lives, whereas his accuser, Imran Ladhar, would not have to face any consequence of his false accusation,” she said.

The judge who granted bail noted that Shahzad was charged with blasphemy under Section 295-A, which is a non-cognizable offense, and Section 298, which is bailable. The judge also noted that police had not submitted the forensic report of Shahzad’s cell phone and said evidence was required to prove that the social media was blasphemous, according to Maria.

Bail was set at 100,000 Pakistani rupees (US $350) and two personal sureties, and the judge ordered police to further investigate, she said.

Shahzad, a paint contractor, on June 29 posted on his Facebook page 1 Cor. 10:18-21 regarding food sacrificed to idols, as Muslims were beginning the four-day festival of Eid al-Adha, which involves slaughtering an animal and sharing the meat.

A Muslim villager took a screenshot of the post, sent it to local social media groups and accused Shahzad of likening Muslims to pagans and disrespecting the Abrahamic tradition of animal sacrifice.

Though Shahzad made no comment in the post, inflammatory or otherwise, the situation became tense after Friday prayers when announcements were made from mosque loudspeakers telling people to gather for a protest, family sources previously told Morning Star News.

Fearing violence as mobs grew in the village, most Christian families fled their homes, leaving everything behind.

In a bid to restore order, the police registered a case against Shahzad under Sections 295-A and 298. Section 295-A relates to “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs” and is punishable with imprisonment of up to 10 years and fine, or both. Section 298 prescribes up to one year in prison and a fine, or both, for hurting religious sentiments.

Pakistan ranked seventh on Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List of the most difficult places to be a Christian, up from eighth the previous year.

Morning Star News is the only independent news service focusing exclusively on the persecution of Christians. The nonprofit’s mission is to provide complete, reliable, even-handed news in order to empower those in the free world to help persecuted Christians, and to encourage persecuted Christians by informing them that they are not alone in their suffering.

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Individual + Team Stats: Hornets vs. Timberwolves

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CHARLOTTE HORNETS MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES You can follow us for future coverage by liking us on Facebook & following us on X: Facebook – All Hornets X – …

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What went wrong with ‘the Metaverse’? An insider’s postmortem

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What went wrong with 'the Metaverse'? An insider's postmortem


It’s now two years since Facebook changed its name to Meta, ushering in a brief but blazing enthusiasm over “the Metaverse”, a concept from science fiction that suddenly seemed to be the next inevitable leap in technology. For most people in tech, however, the term has since lost its luster, seemingly supplanted by any product with “artificial intelligence” attached to its description. 

But the true story of the Metaverse’s rise and fall in public awareness is much more complicated and interesting than simply being the short life cycle of a buzzword — it also reflects a collective failure of both imagination and understanding.  

Consider:

The forgotten novel

Ironically, many tech reporters discounted or even ignored the profound influence of Snow Crash on actual working technologists. The founders of Roblox and Epic (creator of Fortnite) among many other developers were directly inspired by the novel. Despite that, Neal Stephenson’s classic cyberpunk tale has often been depicted as if it were an obscure dystopian tome which merely coined the term. As opposed to what it actually did: describe the concept with a biblical specificity that thousands of developers have referenced in their virtual world projects — many of which have already become extremely popular.

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Snow Crash.

You can see this lack of clarity in many of the mass tech headlines attempting to describe the Metaverse in the wake of Facebook’s name change: 

In a widely shared “obituary” to the Metaverse, Business Insider’s Ed Zitron even compounded the confusion still further by inexplicably misattributing the concept to TRON, the original Disney movie from the 80s.

Had the media referenced Snow Crash far more accurately when the buzz began, they’d come away with a much better understanding of why so many technologists are excited by the Metaverse concept — and realize its early incarnation is already gaining strong user traction.  

Because in the book, the Metaverse is a vast, immersive virtual world that’s simultaneously accessible by millions of people through highly customizable avatars and powerful experience creation tools that are integrated with the offline world through its virtual economy and external technology. In other words, it’s more or less like Roblox and Fortnite — platforms with many tens of millions of active users. 

But then again, the tech media can’t be fully blamed for following Mark Zuckerberg’s lead.

Rather than create a vision for its Metaverse iterating on already successful platforms — Roblox’s 2020 IPO filing even describes itself as the metaverse — Meta’s executive leadership cobbled together a mishmash of disparate products. Most of which, such as remotely working in VR headsets, remain far from proven. According to an internal Blind survey, a majority of Zuckerberg’s own employees say he has not adequately explained what he means by the Metaverse even to them.

Grievous of all, Zuckerberg and his CTO Andrew Bosworth promoted a conception of the Metaverse in which the Quest headset was central. To do so, they had to overlook compelling evidence — raised by senior Microsoft researcher danah boyd at the time of the company acquiring Oculus in 2014 — that females have a high propensity to get nauseous using VR.

Meta Quest 3 comes out on October 10 for $500.
Meta Quest 3.

Contacted in late 2022 while writing Making a Metaverse That Matters, danah told me no one at Oculus or Meta followed up with her about the research questions she raised. Over the years, I have asked several senior Meta staffers (past and present) about this and have yet to receive an adequate reply. Unsurprisingly, Meta’s Quest 2 VR headset has an estimated install base of only about 20 million units, significantly smaller than the customer count of leading video game consoles. A product that tends to make half the population puke is not exactly destined for the mass market — let alone a reliable base for building the Metaverse. 

Ironically, Neal Stephenson himself has frequently insisted that virtual reality is absolutely not a prerequisite for the Metaverse, since flat screens display immersive virtual worlds just fine. But here again, the tech media instead ratified Meta’s flawed VR-centric vision by constantly illustrating articles about the Metaverse with photos of people happily donning headsets to access it — inadvertently setting up a straw man destined to soon go ablaze.

Duct-taped to yet another buzzword

Further sealing the Metaverse hype wave’s fate, it crested around the same time that Web3 and crypto were still enjoying their own euphoria period. This inevitably spawned the “cryptoverse” with platforms like Decentraland and The Sandbox. When the crypto crash came, it was easy to assume the Metaverse was also part of that fall.

But the cryptoverse platforms failed in the same way that other crypto schemes have gone awry: By offering a virtual world as a speculative opportunity, it primarily attracted crypto speculators, not virtual world enthusiasts. By October of 2022, Decentraland was only tracking 7,000 daily active users, game industry analyst Lars Doucet informed me

“Everybody who is still playing is basically just playing poker,” as Lars put it. “This seems to be a kind of recurring trend in dead-end crypto projects. Kind of an eerie rhyme with left-behind American cities where drugs come in and anyone who is left is strung out at a slot machine parlor or liquor store.”

All this occurred as the rise of generative AI birthed another, shinier buzzword — one that people not well-versed in immersive virtual worlds could better understand.

But as “the Metaverse” receded as a hype totem, a hilarious thing happened: Actual metaverse platforms continued growing. Roblox now counts over 300 million monthly active users, making its population nearly the size of the entire United States; Fortnite had its best usage day in 6 years. Meta continues plodding along but seems to finally be learning from its mistakes — for instance, launching a mobile version of its metaverse platform Horizon Worlds.  

Roblox leads the rise of user-generated content.
Roblox.

Into this mix, a new wave of metaverse platforms is preparing to launch, refreshingly led by seasoned, successful game developers: Raph Koster with Playable Worlds, Jenova Chen with his early, successful forays into metaverse experiences, and Everywhere, a metaverse platform lead developed by a veteran of the Grand Theft Auto franchise.

At some point, everyone in tech who co-signed the “death” of the Metaverse may notice this sustained growth. By then however, the term may no longer require much usage, just as the term “information superhighway” fell away as broadband Internet went mainstream.  

Wagner James Au is author of Making a Metaverse That Matters: From Snow Crash & Second Life to A Virtual World Worth Fighting For 

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Discover our Briefings.

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