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NBC Removes “VOTE” Sign From Demi Lovato’s Billboard Performance

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  • After getting backlash over her new anti-Trump song “Commander in Chief,” Demi Lovato clapped back at people for trying to silence her, saying she did not care if it ruined her career. 
  • She performed the song at the Billboard Awards Wednesday in front of a sign that said “VOTE,” but NBC edited out the sign from the version it aired.
  • According to TMZ, which obtained the footage, sources said that because the song was a criticism of Trump, having “VOTE” in the background would signal for people to vote against him.
  • Many called it censorship, noting that NBC did this the same day it agreed to host Trump’s town hall at the exact same time Biden’s town hall was set to air on ABC.
  • That decision caused #NBCBlackout to trend on Twitter, with many calling for boycotts of the network, some denouncing the move, and others asking it to air the town hall at a different time.

Billboard Awards Performance

NBC faced renewed boycott calls Wednesday night after editing out a “VOTE” display during singer Demi Lovato’s performance of her new anti-Trump song at the Billboard Musc Awards.

The discrepancy was first reported by TMZ, which obtained and released the original footage. In it, the message played on the video board behind the singer while she delivered the final few verses of her ballad “Commander and Chief.”

In the version that aired on NBC, which hosted the event, the network zoomed in so only Lovato sitting at the piano could be seen in the frame.

The song, which Lovato dropped earlier in the day, takes aim at Donald Trump with lyrics like, “Commander in Chief, honestly/ If I did the things you do, I couldn’t sleep/ Seriously, do you even know the truth?/ We’re in a state of crisis, people are dying/While you line your pockets deep/ Commander in Chief/ How does it feel to still be able to breathe?”

Ahead of the release, Lovato posted a picture of the song’s cover art on Instagram, and encouraged people to vote.

While plenty of people responded to the post by praising her and thanking her for using her platform to denounce the president, many of the top comments came from people criticizing the singer. 

“Someone doesn’t know how the gov works,” one user wrote. “This is why you don’t listen to celebs on who to vote for… they don’t even have high school educations.” 

Lovato addressed the backlash on her Instagram story by sharing a screenshot of her response to someone who commented on the post.

“You do understand as a celebrity, I have a right to political views as well? Or did you forget that we aren’t just around to entertain people for our entire lives.. that we are citizens of the same country and we are humans with opinions as well?” she wrote.

“I literally don’t care if this ruins my career,” she continued. “This isn’t about that. My career isn’t about that. I made a piece of art that stands for something I believe in. And I’m putting it out even at the risk of losing fans. I’ll take integrity in my work over sales any day.”

Source: Demi Lovato

NBC Backlash & #NBCBlackout

NBC has not said why it chose to remove the “VOTE” sign from its broadcast of Lovato’s performance, but sources told TMZ that the network, “pulled the plug on the ‘VOTE’ message because the song itself was a slam on Trump and the ‘VOTE’ message was a call to vote against him.”

Following the news, many users took to social media to slam the move, arguing that NBC’s decision amounted to censorship.

Others also condemned the network for seeming to censor Lovato on the same day it agreed to host Trump’s town hall at the exact same time former Vice President Joe Biden was scheduled to hold his own on ABC.

Both candidates are set to hold competing events Thursday night to replace what was originally supposed to be the second presidential debate, which was canceled last week after the president refused to take part in the virtual debate requested by the Commission on Presidential Debates following his positive coronavirus diagnosis.

The Commission, for its part, said it would not have an in-person debate because Trump and his team were not being transparent about the president’s health. Instead, Biden’s team organized the ABC town hall in Philadelphia to answer voter questions that will air at 8 p.m. ET.

Shortly after, Trump’s team entered into talks with NBC about hosting a similar event in Miami, and on Wednesday, the network officially announced the plans.

The decision brought significant backlash, and prompted #NBCBlackout to trend top on Twitter Thursday morning, with many users calling for a boycott of NBC and its affiliates.

Others also accused the network of rewarding Trump for refusing to debate his opponent safely by essentially giving him a platform for another rally while detracting views from Biden’s town hall.

Letter to NBC Executives

In a letter to Comcast and NBCUniversal executives, over 100 top celebrities, producers, and showrunners echoed that sentiment and criticized the decision to broadcast Trump’s town hall at the same time as Biden’s.

“This is not a partisan issue,” the letter stated. “This is about the political health of our democracy.”

“President Trump refused to participate in the virtual debate scheduled for Thursday night by the Presidential Debate Commission,” it continued. “By agreeing to air his town hall as counterprogramming opposite Vice President Biden’s town hall on ABC, you are enabling the President’s bad behavior while undercutting the Presidential Debate Commission and doing a disservice to the American public.”

The letter, which was signed by prominent actors like Josh Gad, John Hamm, Aubrey Plaza, and Kumail Nanjiani among others, concluded by requesting that the town hall be broadcast at a different time. 

NBC has yet to respond to the demands, and as of Thursday afternoon, the network appeared to be going ahead with Trump’s town hall as scheduled.

See what others are saying: (Yahoo) (The Hollywood Reporter) (TMZ)

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Lincoln College to Close for Good After COVID and Ransomware Attack Ruin Finances

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Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.


One of the Only Historically Black Colleges in the Midwest Goes Down

After 157 years of educating mostly Black students in Illinois, Lincoln College will close its doors for good on Friday.

The college made the announcement last month, citing financial troubles caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a ransomware attack in December.

Enrollment dropped during the pandemic and the administration had to make costly investments in technology and campus safety measures, according to a statement from the school.

A shrinking endowment put additional pressure on the college’s budget.

The ransomware attack, which the college has said originated from Iran, thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data. Systems for recruitment, retention, and fundraising were completely inoperable at a time when the administration needed them most.

In March, the college paid the ransom, which it has said amounted to less than $100,000. But according to Lincoln’s statement, subsequent projections showed enrollment shortfalls so significant the college would need a transformational donation or partnership to make it beyond the present semester.

The college put out a request for $50 million in a last-ditch effort to save itself, but no one came forward to provide it.

A GoFundMe aiming to raise $20 million for the college only collected $2,452 as of Tuesday.

Students and Employees Give a Bittersweet Goodbye

“The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense,” David Gerlach, the college’s president, said in a statement.

Lincoln counts nearly 1,000 enrolled students, and those who did not graduate this spring will leave the institution without degrees.

Gerlach has said that 22 colleges have worked with Lincoln to accept the remaining students, including their credits, tuition prices, and residency requirements.

“I was shocked and saddened by that news because of me being a freshman, so now I have to find someplace for me to go,” one student told WMBD News after the closure was announced.

When a group of students confronted Gerlach at his office about the closure, he responded with an emotional speech.

“I have been fighting hard to save this place,” he said. “But resources are resources. We’ve done everything we possibly could.”

On April 30, alumni were invited back to the campus to revisit the highlights of their college years before the institution closed.

On Saturday, the college held its final graduation ceremony, where over 200 students accepted their diplomas and Quentin Brackenridge performed the Lincoln Alma Mater.

Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Herald Review) (CNN)

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U.S. Tops One Million Coronavirus Deaths, WHO Estimates 15 Million Worldwide

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India’s real COVID death toll stands at about 4.7 million, ten times higher than official data, the WHO estimated.


One Million Dead

The United States officially surpassed one million coronavirus deaths Wednesday, 26 months after the first death was reported in late February of 2020.

Experts believe that figure is likely an undercount, since there are around 200,000 excess deaths, though some of those may not be COVID-related.

The figure is the equivalent of the population of San Jose, the tenth-largest city in the U.S., vanishing in just over two years. To put the magnitude in visual perspective, NECN published a graphic illustrating what one million deaths looks like.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the White House predicted between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans would die from the coronavirus in a best-case scenario.

By February 2021, over half a million Americans had died of COVID.

The coronavirus has become the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer.

The pandemic’s effects go beyond its death toll. Around a quarter of a million children have lost a caregiver to the virus, including about 200,000 who lost one or both parents. Every COVID-related death leaves an estimated nine people grieving.

The virus has hit certain industries harder than others, with food and agriculture, warehouse operations and manufacturing, and transportation and construction seeing especially high death rates.

People’s mental health has also been affected, with a study in January of five Western countries including the U.S. finding that 13% of people reported symptoms of PTSD attributable to actual or potential contact with the virus.

Fifteen Million Dead

On Thursday, the World Health Organization estimated that nearly 15 million people have died from the pandemic worldwide, a dramatic revision from the 5.4 million previously reported in official statistics.

Between January 2020 and the end of last year, the WHO estimated that between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people died either due to the coronavirus directly or because of factors somehow attributed to the pandemic’s impact on health systems, such as cancer patients who were unable to seek treatment when hospitals were full of COVID patients.

Based on that range, scientists arrived at an approximate total of 14.9 million.

The new estimate shows a 13% increase in deaths than is usually expected for a two-year period.

“This may seem like just a bean-counting exercise, but having these WHO numbers is so critical to understanding how we should combat future pandemics and continue to respond to this one,” Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious diseases specialist at the Yale School of Public Health who was not linked to the WHO research, told the Associated Press.

Most of the deaths occurred in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

According to the WHO, India counts the most deaths by far with 4.7 million, ten times its official number.

See what others are saying: (NBC) (U.S. News and World Report) (Scientific American)

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Official Says Missing Alabama Convict and Corrections Officer Had a “Special Relationship”

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Authorities have also said they now believe the officer willfully helped the inmate escape.


New Information on Missing Inmate & Officer

Authorities in Alabama revealed Tuesday that Assistant Director of Corrections for Lauderdale County Vicky White, who is accused of helping a murder suspect Casey Cole White escape from jail, had a “special relationship” with the inmate.

“Investigators received information from inmates at the Lauderdale County Detention Center over the weekend that there was a special relationship between Director White and inmate Casey White,” Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said in a statement. “That relationship has now been confirmed through our investigation by independent sources and means.”

Officials have previously said that the two are not related, despite their shared surname.

Singleton elaborated on the nature of the relationship while speaking to CNN later on Tuesday. He said it took place “outside of her normal work hours” and added that although it did not include “physical contact,” he still characterized it as “a relationship of a different nature.”

“We were told Casey White got special privileges and was treated differently while in the facility than the other inmates,” Singleton said.

Also on Tuesday, the Marshals Service issued a statement confirming that authorities believe Officer White had helped Mr. White escape. The authorities described her as a “wanted fugitive” and offered a $5,000 reward for any information on her whereabouts. Earlier this week, the Marshals Service also offered a $10,000 reward for any information that could lead to Mr. White’s capture.

Singleton echoed the belief that Officer White’s actions were intentional while speaking to Good Morning America Wednesday.

“I think all of our employees and myself included were really hoping that she did not participate in this willingly. But all indications are that she absolutely did,” he said. “We’re very disappointed in that because we had the utmost trust in her as an employee and as an assistant director of corrections.”

Mysterious Escape

Vicky White and Casey White were last seen leaving the Lauderdale County jail just after 9:30 a.m. Friday. The officer told other employees that she was taking the inmate to a mental health evaluation at a courthouse just down the road, and that she would be going to a medical appointment after because she was not feeling well.

Officials later said her actions violated an official policy that required two sworn deputies to transport people with murder charges. In 2020, Mr. White was charged with two counts of capital murder in connection to a fatal stabbing he confessed to and was awaiting his trial in Lauderdale County.

Mr. White was also serving time for what officials said was a “crime spree” in 2015 which included home invasion, carjacking, and a police chase. He had also previously tried to escape from jail, police said.

It wasn’t until 3:30 p.m. on Friday that a jail employee reported to higher-ups that he was not able to reach Officer White on her phone and that Mr. White had never been returned to his cell.

During a press conference that same night, Singleton told reporters that there had never even been a scheduled mental health evaluation. At another briefing Monday, he announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Vicky on a charge of “permitting or facilitating an escape in the first degree.”

At the time, Singleton said it was unclear “whether she did that willingly or was coerced or threatened” but added, “we know for sure she did participate.” 

See what others are saying: (CNN) (ABC News) (NPR)

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