- 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.”
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)
Mother and Boyfriend Charged After Abandoning 3 Children in Apartment With Sibling’s Remains
Authorities said the malnourished children had been living in the unit without their parents for months.
Abandoned Children Discovered in Houston
Police in Texas arrested a mother and her boyfriend on Tuesday after finding the woman’s three children abandoned in an apartment unit with the remains of their sibling.
Authorities found the 7-, 10-, and 15-year-old boys on Sunday when the teen called police to report that his brother had been dead for a year and that his body was in the unit.
When authorities arrived at the scene, they found the children living in “deplorable conditions.” Police also found the skeletal remains of an 8-year-old, who they emphasized had been decomposing for an extended period of time.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the boys were fending for each other, with the eldest doing his best to care for the younger ones. According to the teen, his parents hadn’t been living in the apartment with them for months.
Gonzales called it one of the most shocking cases he had ever seen in all his years in law enforcement, and many are now asking how these kids could have been suffering for so long without anyone ever noticing.
Signs That Went Unnoticed
The Daily Beast reported that the kids hadn’t been attending school since May 2020, claiming that the school even conducted an unsuccessful home visit in September of that year.
On top of that, the children had been without power for several weeks, with one neighbor telling local reporters that the teen would often charge his phone at her place.
Another neighbor, Erica Chapman, said she had once found the teen sleeping on a playground slide, so she gave him some food and drinks.
“I asked him if he was hungry. He said, ‘Yeah,’ and I brought him out some food and some drinks,” Chapman told KHOU.
She said he “wouldn’t talk about his parents,” and she didn’t push because she wanted him to feel safe coming to her if he needed food. Chapman added that she would drop off food at the apartment sometimes but said it was hard to tell what was going on inside.
Police also described a foul odor coming from the unit, which a different neighbor said she complained to management about more than once. That woman claimed the smell was so vile, she could not turn on her air conditioning.
Dianne Davis, who lived in the complex for two years, told The Houston Chronicle that the building manager performs regular inspections on the units, with the most recent one happening last week.
“How come they couldn’t detect this?” Davis told the paper. “How could that not have been found?”
Mother and Boyfriend Face Charges
According to Child Protective Services (CPS), the agency does have a history with the family, but there was no active investigation at the time the kids were discovered.
After they were found, the boys were treated at a hospital and placed with CPS while the agency seeks emergency custody of them.
At the hospital, doctors discovered fractures in the 7-year-old face and said two of the three boys were malnourished. Meanwhile, the medical examiner’s office said the deceased child suffered multiple blunt force injuries and ruled his death a homicide.
Police located the mother, 35-year-old Gloria Williams, and her boyfriend, 31-year-old Brian Coulter, on Sunday. They were interviewed and initially released without charges.
ABC13 reported that the teen texted his mother, who lived just 15 minutes, before calling the police.
On Tuesday, the couple was finally arrested while allegedly reading articles about themselves at a library. Williams, faces multiple charges, including injury to a child by omission and tampering with evidence involving a human corpse.
Meanwhile, Coulter was charged with murder over the death of the child, though both he and Williams are expected to face more charges as investigators continue to unpack the details of this case.
See what others are saying: (The Houston Chronicle) (The Daily Beast) (The Washington Post)
Man Spent COVID Relief Loan on $58,000 Pokemon Card, Feds Say
The man is facing a wire fraud charge, which carries a max sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, along with a $250,000 fine.
COVID Relief Funds Used on Pokemon Card
Authorities have accused a man in Georgia of misusing COVID-19 relief funds, claiming that he spent $57,789 on a single Pokemon card.
Prosecutors said Vinath Oudomsine made false statements about the gross revenue his business earns and the number of workers he employs when he applied for aid authorized under the CARES Act.
On his July 2020 application, Oudomsine allegedly claimed he had 10 employees and 12-month gross revenues of $235,000.
The following month, he was given about $85,000 from the Small Business Administration (SBA), which means he spent nearly all of the money on the rare card.
Authorities have given few details about the specific card purchased, though they have said Oudomsine was charged with wire fraud and is expected to appear in court on Thursday.
The charge carries a max sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, along with a $250,000 fine.
Misuse of COVID Relief Funds
Oudomsine is far from the first person to face charges for fraud related to small business loans issued amid the pandemic. Others who received relief funds have been accused of spending the money on Lamborghinis, nights at strip clubs, and even an alpaca farm, among other purchases.
In fact, the first person to be charged with fraudulently seeking a pandemic relief loan was recently sentenced to 56 months in prison following a nationwide search after the man faked his own death.
According to The Washington Post, a federal watchdog said this month that the SBA overpaid $4.5 billion in grants to self-employed people and that “no system of controls was in place to flag applications with flawed or illogical information.”
On top of that, the SBA inspector general determined earlier this year that the agency rushed to send out billions of dollars in loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) “at the expense of controls” that could have blocked inappropriate aid.
In a statement on Sunday, the agency said that under the Biden administration, it has worked with Congress and the inspector general to add antifraud measures. Meanwhile, defenders of pandemic relief programs have argued that flagged loans and grants represent only a small fraction of the distributed aid that has been critical to small businesses and their pandemic recovery.
See what others are saying: (NPR)(USA Today)(The Washington Post)
FDA Authorizes Moderna and J&J COVID Vaccine Boosters, Approves Mix-and-Match Doses
The approval will allow at-risk Americans who received Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to get any booster six months after their initial series and all Johnson & Johnson recipients 18 and older to do the same two months after their single-shot dose.
New FDA Authorization
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized boosters shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines and approved a mix-and-match strategy that will allow people who got one company’s shot to get a booster from a different maker.
The decision paves the way for millions of more at-risk Americans to get extra protection, and not just certain Pfizer recipients as previously approved by the FDA.
Under the authorization, people who received Moderna or Pfizer can get any one of the three booster shots six months after completing their initial series if they are 65 and older, at high risk of severe COVID, or face increased exposure because of their work.
Meanwhile, all J&J recipients 18 and older can get any of the approved vaccines two months after they received the one-shot jab.
Hazy Recommendations, For Now
Notably, the FDA did not recommend a certain combination of vaccines, nor did the agency say whether or not it would be more effective for people to stick with their original vaccine maker for their booster.
The new authorizations draw on a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which found that there are no safety concerns with mixing boosters and that vaccine combinations were at least as effective in stimulating antibodies as matched vaccines.
In the case of J&J recipients, the NIH found that people actually had a higher boost from mixing either Moderna or Pfizer boosters.
However, some of the scientists who worked on the study said it should not be used to recommend one combination over another because the research was limited.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which determines vaccine recommendations, could issue more guidance on when and whether people should switch vaccine makers for their booster shots.
An advisory panel for the agency is meeting Thursday to discuss the new FDA authorizations and recommendations.
Once the panel makes its decision, the CDC director has the final say on the guidelines. If the agency agrees with the FDA’s decisions, the booster shots could be rolled out as soon as this weekend.