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It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, Nope… It’s Trump Baby Balloon

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

Fun interview with Leo Murray, creator of the Trump Baby Balloon that will fly over London’s Parliament building to greet President Trump in London on July 13, 2018. Although, Trumps’ handlers plan to keep him far away.


‘Trump Baby’: Meet the Mind Behind the Inflatable Infant Set to Greet Trump on London Trip
by Chantal Da Silva and Chiara Brambilla
Newsweek
July 10, 2018

When London activist Leo Murray first came up with the idea to put a 20-foot “Trump Baby” blimp in the sky in time for President Donald Trump’s trip to Britain this week, he never could have anticipated just how well the plan would take off.


Trump baby / Leo Murray

Within weeks, an online fundraiser aiming to generate £5,000 to help fly the giant balloon reached more than £28,500 in donations. The blimp, which depicts Trump as an angry smartphone-wielding infant, will be floating outside the Palace of Westminster on Friday.

Watch the interview with Leo Murray here:
http://www.newsweek.com/b3b85d32-9593-4a25-87f6-8dcd2a591673

“This has wildly exceeded my expectations,” Murray, 41, told Newsweek. The British activist said his Trump Baby balloon has not only “captured something of the essence of the president’s character,” but has also managed to encapsulate an important moment in Trump’s presidency. (more…)

Duping the Dopes

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

Update July 12, 2018: Roy Moore admits Sacha Baron Cohen tricked him too and threatens to defend his so-called honor.


Sacha Baron Cohen is back.


Sarah Palin Says Sacha Baron Cohen Tricked Her Into a Fake Interview for His New Show
by Alix Langone
Time
July 10, 2018

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin took to Facebook Tuesday to let Sacha Baron Cohen know exactly how angry she feels about being duped for his new prank TV series.

Palin, who sat down with her daughter for an interview with Cohen, is outraged that the comedian, along with Showtime and CBS Corp., pretended to tap her for a “legit Showtime historical documentary.”

“Yup – we were duped. Ya got me, Sacha. Feel better now?”

Cohen, of Borat and Ali G fame, prank interviewed Palin for his upcoming show Who Is America?, which premieres on Showtime Sunday, July 15 at midnight, but will regularly air at 10 p.m ET.

Promo:

Palin posted. “I join a long list of American public personalities who have fallen victim to the evil, exploitive, sick ‘humor’ of the British ‘comedian’ Sacha Baron Cohen, enabled and sponsored by CBS/Showtime.”

He reportedly filmed numerous interviews with well-known politicians and public figures for the prank series, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, who was convinced to sign a “waterboard kit” on camera.

Read the rest of this article here.

Cold as I.C.E.

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Political Pranks

Art Collective Indecline and cartoonist Rob Rogers writ large.


Bay Area Protests Trump’s Child Detention Policy with Billboard and Projection
Hyperallergic
by Benjamin Sutton
June 21, 2018

A clandestine modification of a junk removal billboard and a nighttime projection of a political cartoon called out the president’s family separation policy.

Is the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) advertising its brutal practice of separating migrant families? If you were driving along Interstate 80 in California’s East Bay last night or early this morning, you might have seen what appeared to be a billboard for ICE flaunting its inhumane expertise — “We make kids disappear” — alongside the Munchian image of a shocked and screaming child.

The ignoble advertisement is in fact the work of satiric and shadowy public art collective Indecline, whose members scaled the billboard (which formerly promoted 1-800-Got-Junk?’s ability to “make junk disappear”) in the night and transformed it into a provocative indictment of ICE. At the time this article was published, a spokesperson for Indecline said that the modified billboard was still in place.

Read more here.

Dick Tuck, RIP

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, The History of Pranks

An ode to a political prankster
by Tom Lawrence
Black Hills Pioneer
June 12, 2018

Even his name, Dick Tuck, which rhymes with Puck, was perfect.

Because Dick Tuck was a Puckish presence in national politics for decades, using wit and wile as weapons in political battles. The Democratic trickster died May 28 at 93 … unless this was another of his pranks. I really wouldn’t put it past him.

Tuck’s primary target was another Tricky Dick, aka Richard Nixon. From Nixon’s bid for a Senate seat in 1950 until his presidential re-election campaign in 1972, Tuck was a thorn in Nixon’s flesh, poking and prodding him with stunts, pranks and mischief.

Why? Tuck had a deep dislike for Nixon, and not just because they were polar opposites politically. He felt Nixon was unethical and unprincipled — a good read, it turned out — and Tuck was determined to do whatever he could to hamper his rise.

It rarely worked, however. Nixon won the Senate race in 1950, defeating Democratic incumbent Helen Gahagan Douglas, whom he labeled “the Pink Lady,” unfairly and inaccurately accusing her of being soft on communism.

Tuck launched his political career during that race when a college professor who knew he was interested in politics asked him to aid the Nixon campaign. He forgot to ask which party his student favored.

Amazingly enough, Tuck was allowed to organize a Nixon rally. He booked the largest hall he could find and did not publicize the event. He then introduced Nixon with a long, rambling speech that ended by telling the scant few people in the audience that the candidate would discuss the International Monetary Fund.

After the shambles of an event was over, Nixon went to the young organizer and said, “Dick Tuck, you’ve done your last advance.”

If only he had known what was in store for him. (more…)

Here’s a Chilling Thought

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

He has confided that he dreams of being added to Mount Rushmore. Maybe this will have to do…


Environmentalist group wants to carve Trump’s face in glacier
by Max Jaeger
New York Post
May 1, 2018

They want to melt the president in effigy.

A Finnish group is raising money to carve President Trump’s face into a glacier and then live stream it as it thaws — all to raise awareness about global warming.

Watch the Project Trumpmore official trailer:

“There are still people who ponder whether it’s (global warming) a real issue. We want to build the monument for all of us, so we can see how long the sculpture lasts before melting,” Nicolas Prieto of the Melting Ice association said in a statement.

“Often people only believe something when they see it with their own eyes.”

The group — which calls the project “Trumpmore” in a nod to Mount Rushmore — is trying to raise just south of $500,000 to create the 115-foot-tall carving, which would have roughly the same dimensions as the sculptures adorning Rushmore.

Melting Ice thinks the actual construction would take a team of Finnish and Mongolian sculptors about four weeks to complete. Then they aim to train a live stream on the carving to watch it melt. (more…)

Taxidermied Anteater Fools Photography Contest Judges

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Hoaxes vs. Scams, Prank News, You Decide

Well, it was alive at some point…


Wildlife photo competition disqualifies ‘stuffed anteater’ image
by Jonathan Amos
BBC Science Correspondent
27 April 2018

A winning entry in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition has been disqualified for featuring a taxidermy specimen.

The image, known as The Night Raider, shows an anteater moving towards a termite mound in a Brazilian reserve.

Mr Cabral said flashes and a long exposure were needed to capture the scene

London’s Natural History Museum, which runs the competition, says the use of stuffed animals breaches its rules.

The photographer, Marcio Cabral, denies he faked the scene and claims there is a witness who was with him on the day.

Other photographers and tourists were in the park at the same time and therefore “it would be very unlikely anyone wouldn’t see a stuffed animal being transported and placed carefully in this position”, he told BBC News.

But Roz Kidman Cox, the chair of judges for Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY), was stern in her criticism.

“This disqualification should remind entrants that any transgression of the rules and spirit of the competition will eventually be found out,” she said.

The taxidermy specimen is held at a visitors’ centre at an entrance to the park

The Night Raider picture won the Animals In Their Environment category in the 2017 WPY awards. It was taken in Emas National Park. (more…)

Larry Harvey, Co-founder of Burning Man, RIP

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Prank News, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

Burning Man’s co-founder dead at 70: How his event changed the world
by Chris Taylor
Mashable
April 28, 2018

Larry Harvey, the co-founder of the Burning Man festival who grew it from an event on a San Francisco beach to a desert arts festival of global significance, died Saturday. He was 70.

Harvey had been hospitalized after a stroke on April 4, and had remained in critical condition. “Though we all hoped he would recover, he passed peacefully this morning at 8:24am in San Francisco, with members of his family at his side,” wrote Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell in the organization’s official announcement.

Harvey’s story has already passed into countercultural legend. A former landscape gardener and carpenter, he and his friend Jerry James decided to burn a large wooden figure of a man on San Francisco’s Baker Beach in 1986.

The Burning Man event, repeated annually, began to draw exponentially increasing numbers of attendees — so many that Harvey and friends needed a new location where it could grow relatively unchecked by authorities. In 1990 they found one in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, and the week-long extravaganza of Burning Man began.

Much of the event’s energy in those early years was provided by the Cacophony Society, a culture-jamming collective of California artists. But it was Harvey who became the face and the driving force behind Burning Man’s expansion. After a particularly anarchic version of the festival in 1996, in which one participant ran his car over a number of people in tents, Harvey oversaw Burning Man’s transformation into Black Rock City — a temporary urban environment with roads, gas lamps and an army of volunteers. Read the rest of this article here.

Finger Painting

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Filed under: Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

A lot of finger pointing here…


Mobile art project gives middle finger to Hillary and Trump
by Oli Coleman
Page Six
April 30, 2018

“DEFIANCE” (Donald Trump) and “FAIR GAME” (Hillary Clinton) are each made from 4,000 hand-cast urethane middle fingers by artist Kevin Champeny. Courtesy Kevin Champeny

An artist is arranging a massive moving art installation in which two trucks will carry giant portraits of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump around town made of thousands of rubber middle fingers pointing at each other.

Kevin Champeny’s mobile installation — the Clinton piece is called “Fair Game” and Trump’s is “Defiance” — also plays audio clips of the political rivals talking about each other via huge speakers.

With its 4,000 urethane fingers, the art will be parked from May 3 to May 6 at Union Square Park, Madison Square Park, Bryant Park, Times Square and Pier 94 — where Art New York is taking place.

Google Maps, the Fraud Frontier

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Propaganda and Disinformation

It’s the wild, wild west. Why has Google Maps, “plagued by fake reviews, ghost listings, lead generation schemes and impersonators,” barely begun to fight back?


These online volunteers fight fake reviews, ghost listings and other scams on Google Maps — and say the problem’s getting worse
by Jillian D’Onfro
CNBC
April 13, 2018

Tom Waddington was hanging out at a friend’s house when he got an unexpected notification from Google Maps.

Waddington is part of a group of Google Maps advocates who are trying to improve the service, so he lets Google track his location and frequently adds photos or edits to Maps listings.

So the notification itself was routine, but the message was strange: Maps wanted him to contribute information about the Urgent Care center nearby. He was in a residential neighborhood.

He opened the app and, sure enough, one of the houses next door was listed as a clinic. A telemedicine company that also made house calls had falsely claimed that physical address to try to increase business. The scammers hoped potential patients would search Maps for Urgent Care centers nearby, then call its number to schedule a house call or virtual appointment.

These growth-hacking scams can have consequences: Waddington found someone who claimed to have taken his child to one of these non-existent clinics. Read the rest here.

Better Call Mike

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Parody, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

Fake subway ads promoting the services offered by President Trump’s fixer, attorney Michael Cohen, have appeared in New York City subways. The anonymous force behind the ads, website and telephone message you receive when you call the phone number on the ad is interviewed in the Village Voice.


Meet the Creator of the Fake Michael Cohen Subway Ad
by Neil Demause
Village Voice
April 20, 2018

Dirty deeds, done for a reasonable retainer

Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images

This week, subway riders may have been surprised during their morning commutes to see a Dr. Zizmor–esque ad for another now-familiar face: “Michael Cohen, Attorney-at-Law. Got Problems? Call ‘The Fixer,’ ” the ad copy reads, above a checklist of services rendered — “Hush Payments, Physical Threats, Pay Off Porn Stars, Playboy Bunnies” — and the smarmily grinning face of Donald Trump’s embattled lawyer.

The ad — which, needless to say, was placed on trains without the knowledge or permission of the MTA — went a step further, though, by including a phone number that leads to a similarly deadpan voicemail message (“Press 3 if you are the president of the United States”), as well as a URL for a website advertising his skill set and office hours. (Apparently the fake Cohen is happy to “commit treason if it means helping a client” but doesn’t work weekends.)

The Voice, in what is apparently going to be an ongoing series of interviews with New Yorkers insistent on joining the daily subway-ad-strip dialogue, tracked down the anonymous Cohen impersonator for a brief email interrogation: Read the full interview here.

Behold Instagram’s Digital Conmen

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Propaganda and Disinformation

Money, money, money… money.

“Oyefeso is one of the most high-profile figures of an internet subculture that reveres Jordan Belfort and has taken his Wolf of Wall Street persona to social media. Posing as ultra-wealthy kids and posting internet memes taken from the movie, its followers aggressively sign up young people to what looks like an international pyramid scheme that has helped to generate billions of pounds for large companies selling highly risky financial trading products.” -Symeon Brown


Fake it till you make it: meet the wolves of Instagram
by Symeon Brown
The Guardian
April 19, 2018

Their hero is Jordan Belfort, their social media feeds display super-rich lifestyles. But what are these self-styled traders really selling?

The original Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort, was a rogue trader convicted of fraudulently selling worthless penny stocks to naive investors. His biopic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the ostentatious, money-obsessed huckster, was a box-office hit in 2013. Although it may have been intended as a cautionary tale, to thousands of young millennials from humble backgrounds, Belfort’s story became a blueprint for how to escape an unremarkable life on low pay.

Within months of the Wolf of Wall Street’s UK premiere in January 2014, a stocky 21-year-old named Elijah Oyefeso from a south London housing estate, began broadcasting on social media how much money he was making as a stock-market whizzkid. His thousands of young followers were desperate to do the same. As Oyefeso’s online fame grew, he caught the attention of TV producers. In January 2016, Oyefeso was featured in the Channel 4 show Rich Kids Go Shopping, in which he bought expensive jumpers to give to homeless people and showed viewers how easy it was to make stock trades online.

Even before Oyefeso’s appearance on mainstream TV, his story had already gone viral. British tabloids, including the Daily Mail, the Evening Standard and the Mirror, as well as a host of online magazines targeted at young men, all ran pieces about his success. The Mail headline described him as a university dropout who supposedly used his student loan to start trading financial products online and “now claims he earns £30,000 on a BAD month – by working just ONE HOUR a day”.

It’s an image of self-made wealth and ridiculous luxury, and one that Oyefeso has intensively cultivated online. The videos on his almost comedic YouTube channel, which have hundreds of thousands of views, feature him buying £250,000 cars and boarding private jets as nonchalantly as others his age might hail an Uber. His Instagram, which regularly shows him posing next to a blue and silver Rolls-Royce, describes him as the founder of DCT, his trading firm. DCT stands for “Dreams Come True”.

“I’m never going to work for someone,” Oyefeso says in one of his videos, in a somewhat cartoonish, nasal voice, while he drives his Rolls dressed in a bathrobe. “Look what I’ve built: a foundation. A brand.” Read more

Sinclair Broadcasting Screams “Fake News” But They Are Fake News!

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Filed under: First Amendment Issues, Media Literacy, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Propaganda and Disinformation, Spin

Gene Policinski, President & COO of the Newseum Institute, opines on the Sinclair Publishing hostage scenario revealed by Deadspin in a video of news anchors all over the country spouting chillingly identical propaganda.


Policinski: Next time, just put your name to the message
Gene Policinski
Indise the First Amendment
April 7, 2018

Sinclair Broadcasting’s recent promotional message on the state of today’s news — delivered to its TV audiences nationwide — is as protected by the First Amendment as it was an oafish attempt to hide corporate messaging under the veneer of local news reporting.

In other words, it was commentary from a conservative company that has a First Amendment right to express its views, but it was also a shoddy tactic that undermined the very thing Sinclair’s leadership claimed to support: good journalism.

Deadspin — an online sports news site — put together a now widely shared video of news anchors from 45 Sinclair-owned American stations, all reading in synchrony from the same script. The video’s echo-chamber effect laid bare what many have described as an “Orwellian” attempt to deliver a persuasive message using trusted voices in local journalism.

Watch the video:
Sinclair’s Soldiers in Trump’s War on Media Video, by Deadspin

The mash-up of TV anchors, delivering the script with varying degrees of sincerity, prompted dire warnings from left-leaning cable news commentators about media consolidation and ulterior political motives.

President Trump tweeted a defense of Sinclair, using the controversy to take yet another swipe at the same mainstream news outlets he frequently attacks: “So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased.”

Trump has it wrong — critics took aim at the method, not the message.

Let’s parse the actual effort… Read the rest of this article here.

Banksy Immortalizes Painting That Caused Artist Zehra Dogan’s Arrest & Imprisonment in Turkey

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

Banksy’s new mural in collaboration with Borf, aka John Tsombikos, brings jailed Turkish artist Zehra Dogan’s work to New York.


New Banksy NYC mural supports jailed Turkish artist
by Janon Fisher
New York Daily News
March 17, 2018

The mysterious British graffiti artist Banksy created a 70-foot mural on the Houston Bowery Graffiti Wall showing Turkish artist Zehra Dogan trapped behind hashmarks. (FRANK FRANKLIN II/AP)

Mysterious British graffiti artist Banksy can't stay away from the Big Apple.

After tagging the clock face on a West Village bank, he moved east Thursday, with a sidewalk to rooftop display drawing attention to the plight of a jailed artist.

The 70-foot mural on the Houston Bowery Graffiti Wall shows Turkish artist Zehra Dogan trapped behind a set of hashmarks meant to symbolize her prison bars.

Dogan was sentenced to nearly three years in jail for painting a the town of Nasybin laid waste by the Turkish after a battle with Kurdish forces.

She copied the photo from a newspaper then painted it in watercolor, adding Turkish flags to the scene, according to her publicist.

Dogan was arrested after she posted the image on social media.

The timing of the mural marks the one year anniversary of her incarceration.

Her watercolor stretches out across the top of the building where Banksy has painted his mural.

"I really feel for her. I've painted things much more worthy of a custodial sentence," Banksy told The New York Times in a statement.

7,000 Pairs of Shoes is 7,000 Too Many

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Filed under: Creative Activism, First Amendment Issues, Political Challenges, Prank News

A powerful display of empty shoes on Capitol Lawn remembers the thousands of children killed by gun violence in America in recent years. #NotOneMore


7,000 Pairs Of Shoes On Capitol Lawn Are Powerful Nod To Gun Violence
by Willa Frej
Huffington Post
March 14, 2018

They are meant to represent the number of children killed in shootings since Sandy Hook.

With the epicenter of policymaking looming large in the background, activists on Tuesday placed 7,000 pairs of empty shoes across the Capitol lawn, an impossible-to-ignore symbol of the children lost to gun violence since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.

Families who have lost children to shootings were invited to contribute their kids’ shoes, said global advocacy group Avaaz, which organized the event.

“I’ll be traveling to D.C. literally wearing my son Daniel’s shoes, the ones he wore the day he died at Columbine,” said Tom Mauser, whose son was killed in the Columbine mass shooting. “I think this kind of event with shoes offers a very powerful metaphor both for how we miss the victims who once filled those shoes, and also for how we see ourselves wanting to walk in their place, seeking change, so that others don’t have to walk this painful journey.”

People across the country, including celebrities, donated shoes to the display, which Avaaz said covered more than 10,000 square feet of grounds outside the Capitol. Several Democratic lawmakers visited the site, taking the opportunity to call out congressional inaction on gun reform.

According to CNN, Avaaz took the 7,000 figure from a 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics report, which found that almost 1,300 children die from gunshot wounds in the U.S. every year.

Tom Mauser lost his son Daniel at Columbine. He’s at the Capitol today to say #NotOneMore. Read more

A Novel Approach to Money Laundering

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Literary Hoaxes, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

What do you get when a fake author using a stolen identity publishes a gibberish-ridden novel on demand and then buys scads of them at high prices with dirty money? Clean money. h/t BoingBoing


Money Laundering Via Author Impersonation on Amazon?
Krebs on Security
February 20, 2018

Patrick Reames had no idea why Amazon.com sent him a 1099 form saying he’d made almost $24,000 selling books via Createspace, the company’s on-demand publishing arm. That is, until he searched the site for his name and discovered someone has been using it to peddle a $555 book that’s full of nothing but gibberish.

Reames is a credited author on Amazon by way of several commodity industry books, although none of them made anywhere near the amount Amazon is reporting to the Internal Revenue Service. Nor does he have a personal account with Createspace.

But that didn’t stop someone from publishing a “novel” under his name. That word is in quotations because the publication appears to be little more than computer-generated text, almost like the gibberish one might find in a spam email.

“Based on what I could see from the ‘sneak peak’ function, the book was nothing more than a computer generated ‘story’ with no structure, chapters or paragraphs — only lines of text with a carriage return after each sentence,” Reames said in an interview with KrebsOnSecurity.

The impersonator priced the book at $555 and it was posted to multiple Amazon sites in different countries. The book — which as been removed from most Amazon country pages as of a few days ago – is titled “Lower Days Ahead,” and was published on Oct 7, 2017.

Reames said he suspects someone has been buying the book using stolen credit and/or debit cards, and pocketing the 60 percent that Amazon gives to authors. At $555 a pop, it would only take approximately 70 sales over three months to rack up the earnings that Amazon said he made. (more…)