Tag Archives: vice news

Fyre Festival Organizers Blew All Their Money Months Early on Models, Planes, and Yachts

One month before thousands of well-heeled millennials were set to descend on a remote island in the Bahamas for the Fyre Festival to frolic on yachts, rub elbows with models, and hear acts like Blink 182 and Major Lazer, the organizers had a big problem.

They were running low on cash and the festival lacked fundamental necessities—toilets and showers, for example—and they were running out of time. One supplier told VICE News that when they were contacted by the festival in April, they told the organizers that all the money in the world wouldn't get trailers for toilets and showers past customs in time because that takes weeks to process. The festival was scheduled over two weekends in late April and early May.

"There was no infrastructure to even support the equipment. They didn't even have a loading dock, they had no understanding of what vehicles were on the island to even move the stuff off the ship once it got there," said the supplier. "They said stuff like, 'Don't worry about customs; it's only for a weekend, you don't have to worry about customs."

Continue reading on VICE News.

Republicans Rush Trumpcare Vote to Happen Thursday Without CBO Score

Republicans leaders in the House of Representatives announced Wednesday night that they will vote on Thursday to replace Obamacare with a renegotiated Trumpcare bill they expect will pass.

After months of haggling, Republicans expressed confidence they had finally crafted a bill that will get the 216 votes necessary. "Do we have the votes? Yes. Will we pass it? Yes," said Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the second-highest ranking Republican.

The Trump administration is putting enormous pressure on members to support the new president in his first major legislative initiative, and it's possible that McCarthy and Republican leaders are calling the vote and projecting confidence as a final lean on squishy members.

Continue reading on VICE News.

Facebook Will Hire 3,000 People to Watch Videos of Murder, Suicides, and Mayhem

After months of murders, rapes, torture, and other violent acts turning up in users' feeds—Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Facebook plans to hire a few thousand more people to help better monitor videos posted to the social network.

"Over the next year, we'll be adding 3,000 people to our community operations team around the world—on top of the 4,500 we have today—to review the millions of reports we get every week, and improve the process for doing it quickly," Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post Wednesday morning. The CEO added that Facebook will be making it easier for users to report "problems," noting that the company receives "millions of reports" every week.

Zuckerberg did not mention any specific event that led to Facebook's decision to increase its "community operations" headcount by 75 percent. But it's a safe bet that the recent livestreamed infanticide and the widely publicized shooting of an elderly man in Cleveland on Easter Sunday figured into the company's thinking.

Continue reading on VICE News.

Fyre Festival’s 25-Year-Old Organizer: “This Is the Worst Day of My Life”

Fyre Fest's organizers struggled to contain a debacle that became a national punchline on Friday after leaving hundreds of customers who had paid thousands for a star-studded "luxury" experience stranded on a remote island in battered tents with little food and no one in charge.

They promised to get all remaining ticket holders back to the United States by 9 p.m. Friday.

In a phone interview Friday evening, the 25-year-old tech entrepreneur behind the festival, Billy McFarland, called the previous 24 hours the "worst day of my life" and described the fiasco, which reverberated across social media, as essentially an act of God.

"Unfortunately we were hit by a storm early Thursday morning that caused some damage to half our tent housing and busted pipes and delayed flights that were arriving to the point where we weren't comfortable in our ability to resolve it, and we decided to postpone the festival," McFarland said.

He did not address the "villa" housing, which was sold on the website, but did not appear to exist.

He promised all guests would be "refunded in full" and promised free VIP tickets to a 2018 Fyre Festival, which he says will be held somewhere in the United States with a portion of proceeds donated to the Bahamian Red Cross He said he planned to donate $1 per ticket, though in another interview the same day he said $1.50.

The apology capped a 48-hour period where well-heeled millennials took to Instagram and Twitter to document failed logistics that left them stranded on tarmacs, wandering around a half-built festival, and at least in one case, locked in a Bahamas airport overnight.

Fyre Festival was intended to be a "once in a lifetime musical experience," where revelers could mingle with models and hunt for treasure on jet skis in between big-name artists' sets on a "remote and private island" in the Bahamas.

Read the full story on VICE News.

Trump’s Immigration Crackdown Has Silenced Domestic Violence Victims

Denver saw a dramatic spike in reports of domestic violence last year, but city officials had to drop four cases in late January and early February because the victims were too afraid to testify. As undocumented immigrants, they worried if they came to court, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers would be waiting to pick them up.

"Our prosecution team was incredibly disheartened. We have worked very hard for many years now to establish trust with the immigrant community," said Denver city Attorney Kristin Bronson, who took on the role in October 2016. "It's a real challenge as prosecutors to keep women cooperating with us, and the deportation fear makes them even more scared."

Under the Obama administration, ICE agents prioritized arresting undocumented immigrants with criminal records, sometimes making pointed arrests at courthouses. But since President Donald Trump signed executive orders on January 25 instructing ICE to ramp up its deportation efforts, the agency's protocol has become more unpredictable, sowing fear in the immigrant community and hindering local prosecutors who depend on those immigrants to testify in court, especially in cases of domestic violence.

Continue reading on VICE News.

Trump Is Trying to Expand His Immunity from Lawsuits While He’s President

As president of the United States, Donald Trump gets to live in the White House, ride in "The Beast," and fly around the world on Air Force One. But for a famously litigious businessman-turned-politician, running the country offers another attractive benefit: legal immunity.

The president cannot face lawsuits related to what he does in an official capacity while in office, the Supreme Court has ruled in multiple cases. Instead, anyone who feels wronged by a presidential action needs to sue the U.S. government as a whole.

But what Trump did before he moved into the White House is fair game—for now. His legal team is trying to expand the legal exceptions already afforded to the president, potentially putting ongoing lawsuits against Trump in limbo.

Continue reading on VICE News.

Donald Trump Broke a Lot of Campaign Promises, but He Kept His Word on Abortion

President Trump has changed his mind or failed to follow through on many campaign promises in his first 100 days in office, but there's at least one pledge he's kept: to limit access to abortion.

Early on in his campaign, Trump often switched on his stance on abortion and appeared uneducated about the issue. He seemed not to know the difference between "pro-life" and "pro-choice," and later suggested that abortion "laws are set" and can't be changed. But by September 2016, Trump had solidified his anti-abortion bona fides. He announced the creation of a "pro-life coalition" and promised to gut federal funding for abortion providers, among other sweeping federal changes.

Now, anti-abortion advocates—already thrilled with the support they've seen so far from Trump's administration—are eager for what's to come.

Continue reading on VICE News.

Chaffetz Says Michael Flynn Probably Took Money from Russia and There Will Be ‘Repercussions’

House Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz said Tuesday it appears that President Trump's former national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, broke the law and received money from Russia.

"As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey, or anybody else," Chaffetz said in a joint statement with Rep. Elijah Cummings on CNN. "And it appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate, and there are repercussions for the violation of law."

"If that money was received by General Flynn—and we believe that it was—that money needs to be recovered," he said.

Continue reading on VICE News.

Trump Pushes Hundreds to Run for Congress

The 2018 midterms are still 561 days away, but an unprecedented early surge of Democrats have already declared their candidacies for the House of Representatives, setting up what will likely be one of the longest and most crowded series of House Democratic primary campaigns in memory.

Already 408 Democrats have thrown their hats in the ring, a 58 percent increase over the 259 who had declared by this point in the run-up to the 2014 midterms. And several hundred more candidates are likely to join races across the country as the Democratic Party and multiple outside progressive groups recruit their own candidates. This tsunami of Democratic challengers will likely make it more difficult for President Donald Trump to pass his legislative agenda as members of Congress—Republicans and Democrats alike—will be wary of casting votes that provide ammo to progressive Democratic challengers.

Contrary to fears among some liberals that the anti-Trump resistance movement would start and stop with marches and memes, the surge of energy and potential candidates is letting dispirited Democrats dare to believe they could win the 24 seats they need to reclaim the House majority for the first time since 2010.

Continue reading on VICE News.

Russia’s Fake News Machine is Targeting the French Elections

In early April, the Russian state media outlet Sputnik published a story suggesting Emmanuel Macron, centrist candidate for the French presidency, was "a U.S. agent" and possibly "acting in the interests of the U.S. financial market in France." Another article, published in French, claimed Macron's campaign was being financed by Saudi Arabia — and despite being completely inaccurate, it generated 10,000 likes, shares, and comments on Facebook.

The Russian fake-media machine has trained its sights on the French elections, and there are just two days to go in what has been a roller-coaster campaign. Opinion polls have the leading candidates, far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, left-wing veteran Jean-Luc Melenchon, conservative François Fillon, and centrist, pro-Europe candidate Emmanuel Macron separated by the polling margin of error ahead of the Sunday vote.

But Russian state media has a clear preference: Stop Macron by any means necessary.

The effort to slow down Macron has been conducted by both state-owned Russian media outlets like RT and Sputnik — both of whom set up French outposts in recent years — as well as less official channels like far-right blogs, Twitter bots, and troll farms, all of which are used to amplify the message from Moscow.

The surge of propaganda was triggered when conservative Fillon slipped in the polls as the result of a corruption scandal involving his wife. "When Fillon's poll ratings slumped and Emmanuel Macron, who is much more pro-EU and pro-U.S., surged, the Kremlin media jumped to broadcast attacks on Macron," Ben Nimmo, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, told VICE News.

Disinformation spread by Russian state media outlets has been amplified on social media using a complex network of bots which the Digital Forensic Research Lab this week showed can be linked directly back to the Twitter accounts of both RT and Sputnik in France.

Read the full story on VICE News.