The Trump Baby Blimp will live on long after its namesake has left the White House.
The Museum of London said Monday that it had added the giant balloon, which depicts Donald Trump as a screaming orange baby, to its collection as an illustration of the protests that greeted the U.S. president when he visited the city in 2018.
“By collecting the baby blimp, we can mark the wave of feeling that washed over the city that day and capture a particular moment of resistance,” Sharon Ament, the museum's director, said in a statement.
The blimp will become part of the museum’s protest collection, which includes artifacts from the women’s suffrage movement, peace activists who opposed the war in Iraq during the early 2000s, and more recent protests against public spending cuts.
The Trump Baby Blimp was designed by a group of friends who met in a London pub to discuss how they could speak out against Trump’s policies. What they came up with was a giant balloon that caricatured Trump as a screaming, diapered baby clutching a smart phone and topped by a quiff of yellow hair.
The blimp flew outside the Houses of Parliament on July 13, 2018, when thousands of demonstrators crammed the streets of central London to protest Trump’s visit to the capital.
“We hope the baby’s place in the museum will stand as a reminder of when London stood against Trump, but will prompt those who see it to examine how they can continue the fight against the politics of hate,” the blimp’s creators said in the statement.
Hours after an angry mob of Trump supporters took control of the U.S. Capitol in a violent insurrection, Selena Gomez laid much of the blame at the feet of Big Tech.
“Today is the result of allowing people with hate in their hearts to use platforms that should be used to bring people together and allow people to build community,” tweeted the singer/actor. “Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Jack Dorsey, Sundar Pichai, Susan Wojcicki — you have all failed the American people today, and I hope you’re going to fix things moving forward.”
It’s just the latest effort by the 28-year-old Gomez to draw attention to the danger of internet companies critics say have profited from misinformation and hate on their platforms. Gomez has been calling out Big Tech for months — publicly on the very platforms she’s fighting and privately in conversations with Silicon Valley’s big hitters.
Also Read: Trump impeached
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press on Jan. 6, just hours before the Capitol riot, Gomez said she’s been frustrated by what she views as the companies’ lackluster response. She said they have to “stop doing the bare minimum.”
It isn’t about me versus you, one political party versus another. This is about truth versus lies and Facebook, Instagram and big tech companies have to stop allowing lies to just flow and pretend to be the truth,” Gomez said in a phone interview from New York. “Facebook continues to allow dangerous lies about vaccines and COVID and the U.S. election, and neo-Nazi groups are selling racist products via Instagram.
“Enough is enough,” she said.
Facebook and Twitter representatives declined to comment. Google didn’t respond to an AP request for comment.
Gomez is among a growing number of celebrities using their platforms to call out social media, including Sacha Baron Cohen, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Kerry Washington, and Kim Kardashian West.
Gomez became passionate about the issue in 2017 when a 12-year-old commented on one of her Instagram posts: “Go kill yourself.”
“That was my tipping point,” she said. “I couldn’t handle what I was seeing.”
Social media experts have argued that companies like Facebook and Twitter played a direct role in the Capitol insurrection both by allowing plans for the uprising to be made on their platforms and through algorithms that allow dangerous conspiracy theories to take flight. That’s even though executives, such as Facebook’s Sandberg, have insisted that planning for the riots largely took place on other, smaller platforms.
“The operational planning was happening in spaces that Selena, for example, was identifying to Sheryl Sandberg in advance saying, ‘You know, we need to do something about white supremacist extremism online and their ability to just form a group on Facebook and happily talk away to each other, plan what they’re going to do next,’” said Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which has helped educate Gomez about online misinformation.
In emails shared exclusively with the AP, Gomez told Sandberg in September that “a search for a militia group ‘Three Percenters’ results in dozens of pages, groups and videos focused on people hoping and preparing for civil war, and there are dozens of groups titled ‘white lives matter’ that are full of hate and lies that might lead to people being hurt or, even worse, killed.”
That’s even though Facebook banned U.S.-based militia groups from its service in August.
In the same email, Gomez also points to several ads with lies about election fraud being allowed to remain on Facebook and Instagram and questions why that was being allowed.
“I can’t believe you can’t check ads before you take money, and if you can’t you shouldn’t be profiting from it,” she wrote. “You’re not just doing nothing. You’re cashing in from evil.”
In an email response to Gomez, Sandberg defends Facebook’s efforts to remove harmful content, saying the platform has removed millions of posts for hate speech, and bans ads that are divisive, inflammatory, or discourage people from voting. She didn’t directly address the advertising examples Gomez pointed to.
“It’s beating around the bush and saying what people want to hear,” Gomez said about her interactions with Sandberg and Google, among others. “I think at this point we’ve all learned that words don’t match up unless the action is going to happen.”
Following the violence at the U.S. Capitol, tech companies made some of their biggest changes to date.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms banned President Donald Trump, drawing criticism from some including the American Civil Liberties Union that it was censorship, and praise from others who say the president abused his platform by encouraging violence.
Also Read: Twitter bans Trump, citing risk of violent incitement
In a thread defending Twitter’s Trump ban, CEO Jack Dorsey said “offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all.”
In addition to banning Trump, Facebook has been removing video and photos from Capitol rioters. The company also added text on posts questioning the election, confirming that Joe Biden has been lawfully elected, and saying it was taking enforcement action against militarized social movements like QAnon.
While the changes are positive, they’re “just a drop in the bucket,” said Jeff Orlowski, director of Netflix’s “The Social Dilemma,” a popular 2020 film that showed how Silicon Valley’s pursuit of profit could pose an existential threat to U.S. democracy.
Voices like Gomez’s can be a huge help to get the message across, considering her hundreds of millions of followers, Orlowski said.
“Think of the advertising revenue from every Selena Gomez post. Think of the advertising revenue from every Donald Trump post, the advertising revenue from every post from The Rock or whoever,” he said. “Those people are literally generating millions of dollars for these companies ... The top 20 people on Instagram have probably the most influence over Mark and Sheryl compared to anybody else until finally Congress as a whole gets enough momentum and energy to put some legislation together.”
Also Read: Twitter blocks 70,000 QAnon accounts after US Capitol riot
Orlowski and Ahmed both said they’re looking to Biden’s administration for reforms, including a measure that would hold social media companies accountable for the posts they allow, an effort that has gained momentum and drawn bipartisan support.
“The question no longer is ‘Is there going to be change,’” Ahmed said. “The question is, ‘What kind of change are we going to get?’”
Meanwhile, Gomez vows to keep fighting as long as she has a pedestal.
“While I have this, I’m going to do good things with it,” she said. “I think that’s my purpose.”
Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma and her cricketer-husband Virat Kohli have set up a nursery for their baby girl at their 7,000 sq ft home in an upscale locality in India's financial capital Mumbai. And both being animal lovers, the couple have ensured that the "gender neutral" nursery walls display only pictures of animals.
In an interview with fashion magazine 'Vogue', Anushka said that she had personally designed the "gender-neutral" nursery for their baby. “I don’t believe that boys have to wear blue and girls pink. The nursery has all colours. Both Virat and I love animals and we want our baby to have that bond too. They are a big part of our lives and we really believe they can teach kindness and compassion to children," she said.
The revelation comes barely three days after the Bollywood's most adored couple had urged the paparazzis in Mumbai to not click photos of their newborn baby. The Indian skipper announced that they were blessed with a baby girl, their first child, on January 11, adding that "both the mother and the baby are healthy".
However, in a note to the paparazzi fraternity in the Bollywood city on Wednesday, the couple said: "As parents, we have a simple request to make to you. We want to protect the privacy of our child and we need your help and support."
The Indian cricket captain and his wife had, however, assured the paparazzis that they would share the "content" at the right time. "While we will always ensure that you get all the content you need featuring us, we would request you to kindly not take or carry any content that has our child."
Also read: Gavaskar’s comment distasteful, says Anushka
After being in a relationship for many years, Virat and Anushka, both 32, tied the knot at a low-key ceremony in Italy's Tuscany region in December 2017. In August last year, the couple took to social media to announce the pregnancy by writing "and then we were three".
A right-handed top-order batsman, Kohli is regarded as one of the best contemporary batsmen in the world. He has been the national cricket team's captain since 2013. Since October 2017, he has been the top-ranked ODI batsman in the world and is currently second in Test rankings with 879 points.
In 2018, Time magazine named Kohli one of the 100 most influential people in the world. In 2020, he became the only cricketer in the world to feature in Forbes list of the top 100 highest-paid athletes in the world with an estimated earnings of USD 26 million.
Anushka, on the other hand, moved to Mumbai to pursue a full-time career as a model but she soon made her acting debut opposite 'Bollywood Badshah' Shah Rukh Khan in the highly successful romantic flick 'Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi' in 2008. She subsequently featured in Yash Raj Films' romances 'Band Baaja Baaraat' (2010) and 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan' (2012).
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo.
Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance.
Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event.
Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons.
Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood.
The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.”
“I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.”
Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — “for Democratic.”
“When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.”
In this Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, file photo, Tom Hanks arrives at the People's Choice Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating the inauguration of Joe Biden as president of the United States. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
“With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers.” Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political.
“Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said.
Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said.
Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol.
Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition’s quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual.
Singer Kelly Clarkson is greeted by President Barack Obama, left, and Vice President Joe Biden at the ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration Jan. 21, 2013, in Washington. A-list celebrities are flocking back to inaugural events four years after many stayed away from the inauguration of Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others.
Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she’s been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before.
Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense?
“I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.”
Singer James Taylor performs at the ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington on Jan. 21, 2013. A-list celebrities are flocking back to inaugural events four years after many stayed away from the inauguration of Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten.”
Also Read: Trump won't attend Biden's inauguration
The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware.
On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.”
Beyonce sings the national anthem at the ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration on Jan. 21, 2013, in Washington. A-list celebrities are flocking back to inaugural events four years after many stayed away from the inauguration of Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance.
There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centered at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others.
This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it’s logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent.
“Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.”
The 13th death anniversary of legendary dramatist Selim Al Deen, who played a pivotal role in Bangladesh's theatre movement, was observed in Dhaka on Thursday.
The ‘Natyacharya’, who mesmerised audiences with his works for over three decades and also founded the drama and dramatics department of Jahangirnagar University (JU), died on January 14, 2008, in Dhaka at the age of 58.
Also read:Ex-FS Muazzem Ali remembered
The varsity's drama and dramatics department, theatre troupe Swapnadal and other cultural organisations arranged several programmes to commemorate the life and works of the eminent playwright.
Teachers and students of the university, led by the drama and dramatics department's chairman Soma Mumtaz, brought out a procession in the morning that ended at Al Deen’s grave, where they placed floral wreaths.
Eminent theatre activist and Dhaka DocLab chairperson Nasiruddin Yousuff and theatre troupe Swapnadal founder and chief secretary Zahid Repon were among others who took part in the procession.
Director of JU's Teacher-Student Centre Professor Alamgir Kabir also placed floral wreaths on Al Deen's resting place on behalf of the university's vice-chancellor.
A photography exhibition portraying the life and works of Deen was also organised, followed by a seminar -- ‘Director Selim Al Deen’ -- at the university’s old arts building.
Nasiruddin Yousuff inaugurated the exhibition in the morning and presented the keynote paper at the seminar, which was presided over by Professor Afsar Ahmed.
Later in the evening, the drama and dramatics department virtually performed Al Deen’s play 'Hargaj', which was streamed live on its Facebook page.
A live discussion was streamed live from Swapnadal’s founder Zahid Repon’s Facebook page around 7 pm on Thursday, where Zahid Repon presented the keynote paper. The drama troupe has, in fact, organised a two-day festival in a hybrid format.
The live discussion was joined by the chief of Indian theatre troupe Gobordanga Shilpayan, Ashish Chattopadhyay, Australia-based Renaissance Drama Society’s chief Kamruzzaman Balark, American troupe Obak Theatre’s director Morshad Babu, and Bangladesh Gram Theatre and Dhaka Theatre president Nasiruddin Yousuff.
A special presentation of Al Deen’s play Hargaj, directed by Zahid Repon, was streamed at 7.30 pm on the YouTube channel, Rishra Durayan JTF. Swapnadal will stage the play on Friday evening at the Experimental Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.