It was supposed to be the most glamorous event of the year, with all the selfie opportunities and flower-crowns a young, gym-bodied social media influencer could dream of. But Fyre Festival, an elite concert event on a deserted island in the Bahamas with tickets priced up to $12,000 has quickly turned into a terrifying B-movie, with flocks of Instagram models forced to seek shelter in an airport after arriving to discover a lack of food, violent locals, appalling accommodation and feral dogs roaming the grounds. As a result, social media has exploded overnight with tales of Instagram-filtered terror and disappointment, with beautiful festival-goers arriving on the island to discover half-built tents, their luggage being thrown out of the back of a truck, muggers and thieves laying in wait to steal wallets from trust fund kids, unhelpful staff, and "gourmet cuisine" that turned out to be nothing but ham and cheese sandwiches.
NASA is set to use a radical new "tricorder" DNA sequencer to work out what a mysterious fungus found growing on the International Space Station is. Astronauts have reported funding the strange microbial growths on walls and surfaces, and it has even clogged waterlines. Now, two instruments onboard will be used to analyse it in orbit, allowing mission controllers to work out how to deal with it. The data is collected as the device passes an ionic current through a perforated surface containing nanopores (natural cell membrane ion pores) and measures the changes in the current as biological molecules from samples pass through the pores. read more
A Texas jury has stripped right-wing radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of primary custody of his children and awarded joint custody to his ex-wife. A Travis County jury returned the decision shortly before midnight Thursday after nine hours of deliberation. The verdict means Jones will have visitation rights with the children, ages 9, 12 and 14, but that ex-wife Kelly Jones will establish their primary residence. ... His attorney referred to Jones as a "performance artist," whose explosive outbursts on air were part of an act. The lawyer portrayed Kelly Jones as self-absorbed and emotionally unstable. Kelly Jones' attorney countered that the bombastic broadcast personality, who has called the 2012 Sandy Hook school killings a hoax, is a "cult leader" who was turning their children against his ex-wife ...
Dara Lind, Vox: The wall arguably handed Trump his biggest win -- the presidency itself. It could turn out to be one of his biggest failures. The fundamental problem is that very few people in the Republican Party affirmatively want a literal, physical, concrete wall across the U.S./Mexico border. And in fact, there are constituencies both in the party (like Texas border landowners and the lawmakers who represent them) and within the Trump administration's orbit (like Border Patrol agents) who have good reasons to fight hard against such a thing. But anything short of a literal, physical, concrete wall threatens to disappoint two constituencies who also carry serious weight with the president: the Trumpist base, for whom the wall has become a symbol of making America great again, and cable news pundits who'll find it all too easy to needle Trump over backing down on his central campaign promise. read more
He misses driving, feels as if he is in a cocoon, and is surprised how hard his new job is. President Donald Trump on Thursday reflected on his first 100 days in office with a wistful look at his life before the White House. "I loved my previous life. I had so many things going," Trump told Reuters in an interview. "This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier." Trump, who said he was accustomed to not having privacy in his "old life" expressed surprise at how little he had now. And he made clear he was still getting used to having 24-hour Secret Service protection and its accompanying constraints. read more
During the interview in the Oval Office, [President] Trump told Reuters, "There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely." This will not be seen as anything other than provocation by Kim Jong Un, and it's possible that's exactly how Trump intended it. MSNBC analyst Rick Wilson was having none of it whatsoever. "Donald Trump keeps looking at these things as a real estate negotiation with a lot of bluster and a lot of bluffing. and fails to realize that we're dealing with a country that is not a rational actor and that is poised to do damage to a significant ally of ours if we miscalculate on this thing," Wilson fumed. "A lot of people could die unless Donald Trump leaves this to the grown-ups," he continued. "I would much rather have McMaster and Mattis and even Rex Tillerson handling this right now than this verbally incontinent man-child who feels like he is moving little toy soldiers around the board."
Amanda Terkel, Huffington Post: Over the years, Fox News personality Jesse Watters has mocked Asian-Americans in New York City's Chinatown, shamed homeless people, ambushed journalists at their homes and made a number of offensive comments about immigrants, LGBTQ people and others. Yet through it all, Fox has stood by him. ... But on Tuesday, just his second day in his new job, Watters found himself in trouble when he appeared to make a suggestive joke about Ivanka Trump. ... On Thursday, Watters announced he was taking a vacation with his family but would be back on Monday. O'Reilly also abruptly took a vacation in the middle of his sexual harassment scandal, right before he was fired from his show. read more
The Commerce Department provided on Friday its first statistical snapshot of the American economy in the first quarter, the gross domestic product estimate. The economy barely grew, expanding at an annual rate of only 0.7 percent. The growth was a sharp decline from the 2.1 percent annual rate recorded in the final quarter of last year. It was the weakest quarterly showing in three years. Consumption, the component reflecting individual spending, rose by only 0.3 percent, well below the 3.5 percent rate in the previous quarter. read more
A California government council is warning that climate change could cause ocean waters off the coast to rise far higher than previously anticipated -- an increase in sea level by as much as 10 feet by the end of the century. This worst-case scenario would destroy airports in Oakland and San Francisco, and would swamp roadways, low-lying bridges, railroad tracks, farmland, beaches and some towns. As many as 42,000 homes would be completely submerged, warns the report released this month by a California Ocean Protection Council advisory team. The council adopted an updated report with higher sea-level estimates on Wednesday. read more
Joshua Rhett Miller, New York Post: An alt-right group apparently is trying to build a small street army -- vowing to use violence if necessary to defend free speech from leftist extremists. Kyle Chapman -- a "proud American nationalist" who became a conservative hero in some circles after his arrest this month during fierce clashes between anti-fascist protesters and Trump demonstrators -- announced the formation of the new group last week on Facebook and issued a call to action. ... "Our emphasis will be on street activism, preparation, defense and confrontation," Chapman wrote on Facebook.
Just past the seventh anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, President Trump on Friday directed the Interior Department to "reconsider" several safety regulations on offshore drilling implemented after one of the worst environmental disasters in the nation's history. Friday's executive order was aimed at rolling back the Obama administration's attempts to ban oil drilling off the southeastern Atlantic and Alaskan coasts. It would erase or narrow the boundaries of some federally-protected marine sanctuaries, opening them up to commercial fishing and oil drilling. read more
Brand Eating: For the first time, Taco Bell will be opening its test kitchen in to the general public via a very limited number of reservations available through OpenTable.com. If you manage to reserve one of 32 available seats, the dinner will feature "twists on Taco Bell favorites, never before seen products, and menu creations before they are available to the public." The test kitchen is located at the chain's headquarters in Irvine, California.
In an interview with Reuters Thursday, President Trump said he was "psyched" to terminate NAFTA but was talked out of it in phone calls by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "You know I was really ready and psyched to terminate NAFTA," Trump said. "I'm not looking to hurt Canada and I'm not looking to hurt Mexico. They're two countries I really like. So they asked to renegotiate, and I said yes."
Prehistoric humans -- perhaps Neanderthals or another lost species -- occupied what is now California some 130,000 years ago, a team of scientists reported on Wednesday. The bold and fiercely disputed claim, published in the journal Nature, is based on a study of mastodon bones discovered near San Diego. If the scientists are right, they would significantly alter our understanding of how humans spread around the planet The earliest widely accepted evidence of people in the Americas is less than 15,000 years old. Genetic studies strongly support the idea that those people were the ancestors of living Native Americans, arriving in North America from Asia. read more
Scientists said Thursday that they have manufactured tiny bricks out of artificial Martian soil, anticipating the day when humans may construct colonies on the Red Planet. Remarkably, the technique requires only that the red-hued building blocks be compressed in a precise way -- no additives or baking required. "The people who will go to Mars will be incredibly brave, they will be pioneers and I would be honored to be their brick maker," said Yu Qiao, a professor at the University of California San Diego and lead author of a study in Scientific Reports. read more