At TED This Week, Two Speakers Got To The Root Of Things

Devita Davison is the executive director of FoodLab Detroit — an organization that’s trying to turn the former capital of American industry into an “agrarian paradise.”

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At the TED Conference in Vancouver this week two TED Fellows talked about putting ideas to work to invigorate marginalized communities from within, while harnessing the collective power, creativity, and good will of residents who want to live in thriving, healthy and safe neighborhoods.

Devita Davison, executive director of FoodLab Detroit, offered a different means of taking action: “transformation and hope: through food.” She began by reminding the audience of Detroit’s apex in the 1950s, when the city’s name itself represented the strength of America’s manufacturing capabilities and ingenuity. “Now, today, just a half a century later, Detroit is the poster child for urban decay.”

Between a shrinking population and decades of disinvestment, Davison pointed to the persistent problem of scarcity for its mostly African-American population. “There is a scarcity in Detroit. There is a scarcity of retail. More specifically: fresh food retail. Resulting in a city,” she said, “where 70 percent of Detroiters are obese and overweight. And they struggle… to access nutritious food.”

Emphasizing the proliferation of fast food and convenience stores — and the shortage of supermarkets and fresh produce — Davison said, “this is not good news about the city of Detroit. But this is… the story Detroiters intend to change. No… this is the story that Detroiters ARE changing. Through urban agriculture and food entrepreneurship.”

Despite — or perhaps because of — deindustrialization and a rapidly shrinking population, Detroit has, what she calls, “unique assets.” Specifically, the city has some 40 square miles of vacant lots. It is close to water, the soil is fertile and there are a lot of people willing to work, people who also want fresh fruits and vegetables. And what’s happening, Davison said, is, “a people-powered grass roots movement… transforming this city to what was the capital of American industry into an agrarian paradise.”

As the audience applauded, Davison continued, “For those of us who are working in urban agriculture in Detroit, Michigan today, our vision for the future of the city is very clear. We’re working to make sure Detroit is the most sustainable, most food secure city on planet earth! And we’re just getting started.”

She detailed some of the grassroots progress underway: more than 1,500 urban farms and gardens where more than just produce is being grown. Community is also being cultivated on these plots of land as people grow food together. Davison invites the audience along, “Come walk with me, I want to take you to a few Detroit neighborhoods, and I want you to see what it looks like… folks who are moving the needle in low-income communities and people of color.”

She showed a photo of Oakland Avenue Farms, in Detroit’s North End neighborhood. It looks like a small city park, except for the abundant plants pouring out of tidy planters and growing in large, green bushes from the ground. Davison described the five acres as, “art, architecture, sustainable ecologies and new market practices. In the truest sense of the word, this is what agriCULTURE looks like in the city of Detroit.”

A $500,000 grant will allow the farm to do everything from designing an irrigation system to rehabbing a vacant house and building a store produce to sell. They’ll host culinary events where guests will not just tour the farm and meet the grower, but have chefs prepare farm-to-table dinners with produce at peak season. “We want to change people’s relationship to food. We want them to know exactly where their food comes from that is grown on that farm that’s on the plate.”

Davison’s tour traverses the city to the Brightmoor neighborhood on the west side of Detroit, a lower income community with about 13,000 residents. In this community, Davison explains, they’re taking a block-by-block approach to addressing the lack of access to healthy food. “You’ll find a 21-block ‘micro-neighborhood’ called Brightmoor Farmway. Now what was a notorious, unsafe, underserved community has transformed into a welcoming, beautiful, safe farmway, lush with parks and gardens and farms and greenhouses.” She showed images of a blossoming youth garden, an abandoned house that’s been painted into a giant blackboard where people draw bright messages for each other and a building the community bought out of foreclosure that’s been transformed into a community kitchen and cafe.

Her final example is a nonprofit organization, Keep Growing Detroit, whose aim is to have most of the city’s produce grown locally. To that end, the organization has distributed 70,000 seeds which helped lead to some 550,000 pounds of produce being grown in the Motor City.

“In a city like Detroit where far too many African-Americans are dying as a result of diet-related diseases,” she acknowledges the progress being made on the food scene there, pointing to Detroit Vegan Soul, a restaurant that grew from delivery to catering to two restaurants that serve plant-based food. “Detroiters are hungry for culturally appropriate, fresh, delicious food.”
Davison ended her time on the TED stage by describing the work of her organization, Food Lab Detroit. They help local food entrepreneurs build their businesses with everything from incubation, to workshops to access to experts and mentors so that they can, “grow and scale.” While acknowledging that Detroit’s problems are deep and systemic, Davison offers some hope: those small businesses, run by people traditionally excluded from the business world, last year provided 252 jobs and generated more than $7.5 million in revenue. Not mention lots of delicious, nutritious meals grown from the ground of what’s for too long been seeded with despair and decay.

Before interdisciplinary artist and TED Fellow, Damon Davis, took to the stage on Monday, an excerpt from his film, “Whose Streets,” was shown. The documentary, about the unrest in Ferguson in 2014, premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival and will open in theaters on August 11.

Interdisciplinary artist and TED Fellow, Damon Davis.

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Davis began his talk by acknowledging his fear while standing onstage. “But what happens when, even in the face of… fear, you do what you gotta do. That’s called courage. And just like fear, courage is contagious.”

From East St. Louis, Illinois, Damon said that when Michael Brown, Jr., was gunned down by police, he thought, “He ain’t the first, and he won’t be the last young kid to lose his life to law enforcement. But see,” he continued, “his death was different. When Mike was killed, I remember the powers that be trying to use fear as a weapon. The police response to a community in mourning was to use force to impose fear. Fear of militarized police, imprisonment, fines. The media even tried to make us afraid of each other by the way that they spun the story… this time was different.”

A musician and an artist whose work is in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, Davis’ work tells the story of contemporary African-Americans. After the protests had gone on for a few days, he felt compelled to go see what was going on. “When I got out there, I found something surprising. I found anger… but what I found more of was love — people with love for themselves, love for their community, and it was beautiful. Until them police showed up. Then a new emotion was interjected into the conversation: fear.”

Then, he said, that fear turned to action: yelling, screaming, protesting. Davis went home and started “making things specific to the protest… things that would give people voice and things that would fortify them for the road ahead.”

He took photographs of the hands of the people there, portraits of protest. He posted them on boarded-up buildings and hoped it would boost the community’s morale. Those photos are now in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture.

But he and his filmmaking partner, Sabaah Folayan, wanted to do more. So they started making their documentary, “Whose Streets.”

“I kinda became a conduit for all of this courage that was given to me. And I think that’s part of our job as artists. I think we should be conveyors of courage in the work that we do. We are the wall between the normal folks and the people that use their power to spread fear and hate, especially in times like these.”

As the TED audience, which includes powerful leaders from corporate and cultural institutions, sat rapt, in silence, he turned to them, “I’m going to ask you, y’all the movers and shakers, y’know,” he whispered, “the ‘thought leaders.’ What are you going to do with the gifts that you’ve been given to break us from the fear that binds us every day? Because, see, I’m afraid every day. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t… but once I figured out how to use that fear, I found my power.”

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Young Voters Distrust Presidency, Say It's Unlikely They'll Run For Office, Poll Says

How millennials grade Trump.

Millennials are a tough group to pin down — with their lack of landlines, refusal to answer cellphones and reluctance to respond to online surveys.

But one study has managed to capture what 18- to 29-year-olds are thinking about in the current political moment, including their assessment of President Trump’s first 100 days in office.

Short version: They think he’s doing a lousy job. Trump’s approval rating among this group is an abysmal 32 percent, and 41 percent say he deserves an F for his performance thus far, according to a poll published on Tuesday by the Harvard Institute of Politics and the 33rd edition of the Public Opinion Project. The age group that Harvard surveyed fits into the millennial generation, though often “millennials” refers to people up to 35 years old.

Harvard Institute of Politics/NPR

This generation is “not like their parents,” says polling director John Della Volpe.

For starters, the Pew Research Center found that millennials — about 83 million strong — is more ethnically and racially diverse than any other in American history. Paul Taylor, author of The Next America, argues that unlike their Gen X or Baby Boomer (grand)parents, these young Americans have relationships with a much broader group of people. That’s especially true among college students.

The Harvard poll reveals some interesting connections between the kinds of people millennials know and their political leanings. For instance, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to have a close relationship with a police officer, drug addict or someone in recovery, a truck driver, veteran and a millionaire. Similarly, Democrats are more likely to be close to a Muslim person, an Ivy League graduate, or an undocumented immigrant.

Regardless of party affiliation, nearly half of this behemoth group believes politics is relevant to their lives. Yet they’re distrustful of government bodies, including the president and Congress. Chances they’ll run for elected office before they’re 50? They say 9 percent. In order to be coaxed out of their regular routine to head into a voting booth, they expect to be wooed.

Students in a recent focus group at The Ohio State University in Columbus embody a few more of Volpe’s findings:

Clinton Supporter, Not A Democrat

Like 55 percent of her peers, 20-year-old Mikayla Bodey voted for Hillary Clinton. And when asked to grade Trump, she gives him a “D.” But even now, she is disinclined to call herself a Democrat, which is pretty typical for a millennial half identify as political independents, Pew has reported.

She said she understands the why the two leading parties can’t seem to wrap their heads around the idea that millennials aren’t swayed by identity politics.

Bodey is a senior, just months away from graduation. She has yet to line up a full-time job, so there’s a genuine sense of urgency when she adds, “We care about social issues a lot, but we also care about the fact that we’re going have jobs when we leave school. We also care about how our parents are going to retire.”

Volpe’s research over the 18 years he’s conducted the poll highlights a new kind of willingness among millennials to take a sort of “a la carte” approach to politics. Young voters are more willing than ever to ignore conventional party lines and make decisions based on their own experience.

That explains how 60 percent of voters like Bodey agree that Trump’s plans to crack down on countries that engage in illegal or unfair trade practices that hurt American workers would make America better, while 45 percent say the administration’s plans to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act would make America worse.

Looking For Personalization

Marcus Devies’ email inbox drove him crazy.

In the months leading up to the November election, Devies, another Clinton supporter, said he was subject to a daily deluge of emails from the campaign.

“They were very broad, nonspecific recruiting tools,” he said. Much to his frustration they contained “nothing suited to The Ohio State or Columbus.”

It was annoying, but not enough to deter him from voting for Clinton. Still he shares the millennial view that political outreach efforts should be honed and tailored to the specific recipient. Essentially: To win hearts and minds, you have to learn names.

This shouldn’t be too surprising when one considers this is the first digital-native generation, and it has a voracious appetite for technology to match.

But only a small number a millennials actually worked or volunteered for any of the campaigns. So when those emails arrived, asking for donations or some other form of help, Devies ignored and then deleted them.

When asked what would have made him feel more engaged, Devies replied, “Personalization definitely would have helped. … I could tell it was sent with a click of button to thousands of kids.”

This ties into Volpe’s broader analysis of attitudes toward trust in elected officials and the political system in general. More than half of this generation — 53 percent — say elected officials don’t seem to share the same priorities. They trust the president to “do the right thing” 24 percent of the time. (That’s plummeted from 41 percent of the time in 2012, under Obama.)

Pro-Trump, Anti-Fake News

Republican Zach McIntyre, a freshman from a small rural town in Ohio, is one of the millennials who turned out for and continues to back Trump.

A good chunk of McIntyre’s high school buddies entered the military after graduation. “There are no jobs,” he said by way of explanation.

Although, his friends are too young to be veterans, the anecdote dovetails with Volpe’s research on young Republicans who are far more likely than a Democrat to know someone who’s served in Iraq or Afghanistan — 43 percent versus 26 percent, respectively.

McIntyre also makes concerted effort to stay away from news on social media. While nearly half of millennials believes their Facebook feed is “fake news,” conservatives are a more inclined to hold this view.

“The constant battering of both sides is discrediting all [news outlets] in my opinion,” he said.

Drawing A Line

Kyle Whitlatch, 19, is an outlier when it comes to party loyalty.

Whitlatch, whose parents are both women, is reluctant to call himself a single-issue voter, but he admits he is “as close as you can get.”

“For me, LGBTQ rights are the end issue,” he said. “If you are even kind of questionable on that issue, there is no chance you’ll ever win a vote of mine.”

Whitlatch’s conviction on this topic and other social issue is representative of widespread millennial attitudes.

Seventy-three percent of millennials support same-sex marriage, a 2015 Pew study found, including a majority of Republican and Republican-leaning millennials.

On other social issues, according to the Harvard poll, more millennials agree than disagree that the government should do more to curb climate change, “even at the expense of economic growth”; that the government should spend more money to reduce poverty; and that recent immigration has “done more harm than good.” And there is even more support in those areas now than there was five years ago. The numbers on affirmative action remain low — only 19 percent approve of practices that give qualified minorities special preference in hiring and education, but that’s up from only 14 percent in 2012.

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100 Days In, Women's March Still Inspires. But Can The Enthusiasm Hold?

The Women’s March brought together more than 400,000 protesters in Washington, D.C., and sparked more than 600 sister marches worldwide on Jan. 21.

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Meg Kelly/NPR

Putting together a march on the National Mall is a demanding task, to put it mildly. And the organizers of the Women’s March only had two months to put together an event that quickly grew from a Facebook post to a worldwide phenomenon.

“I think what’s really interesting is we didn’t necessarily have a lot of time to think about next steps,” said activist Carmen Perez.

Perez helped organize the march that brought together more than 400,000 protesters in Washington, D.C. (and sparked more than 600 sister marches worldwide), the day after President Trump’s inauguration. The intense planning involved not only logistics, like securing permits, but thinking about how to be inclusive in a march that refused to focus on any single issue.

“Our focus was to make sure that we were intentional, intersectional and making sure that people feel heard,” she said.

As a group, the Women’s March participants were most definitely heard; two political scientists writing for the Washington Post estimated that it was “likely the largest single-day demonstration in recorded U.S. history.”

But then came the question about what should come next. One hundred days after those demonstrations mobilized millions of people, what effects can we see? It’s clear that the march energized people on a range of issues. The question now is how sustained that energy can be over the long term.

Lots of energy now, but policy achievements (might) come later

So what, exactly, did the Women’s March accomplish? It doesn’t make sense to expect major political change just yet, says one political scientist.

“I think you always have to measure accomplishments in a particular context. And we are in a context where Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the presidency,” said Lee Ann Banaszak, head of the Penn State political science department and an expert on political movements. And because many of the Women’s March participants embraced liberal ideas, she said, their policy agenda isn’t likely to go far in Washington.

What the march did achieve, Banaszak said, is help people to feel less alone and more unified. According to one attendee, seeing so many fellow marchers spurred her to get more politically engaged.

“I went from a sense of feeling very alone and isolated — especially since a majority of my family did support trump and has very different political views from [mine] — to going to the march and having all those people there,” said Dawn Ressel, a 42-year-old software designer from San Diego.

She called the march “inspiring and uplifting.” She said it “definitely changed my attitude. It also changed my action.”

Scenes from the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21.

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Meg Kelly/NPR

The organizers of the Women’s March helped prompt action for many of the participants; after the event, the organizers set up a plan called 10 Actions / 100 Days. Those “10 actions” are a series of calls for political participation, like writing postcards to lawmakers and participating in the “day without a woman” demonstration that took place on March 8, International Women’s Day.

Ressel said the march did push her to do more. She has been reaching out to members of Congress by mail, phone and even fax. She also been meeting with other women to talk about how else to stay involved, like attending other marches.

Another participant said the march helped her get more politically active than she has been in years.

“I have called Congress people more since Trump’s election than I had in the couple of decades before,” said Julie Wittes Schlack, a 62-year-old writer from Cambridge, Mass. “I was an activist way back when, in the ’60s and ’70s. And then fairly dormant for a couple of decades.”

The march likewise could translate into more names on the ballot in the coming years. Some women have said the march helped them decide to run for office. It’s impossible to know exactly how many were energized by the march itself, but it appears there is an explosion in Democratic women interested in running for office. Emily’s List, an organization that helps elect pro-abortion rights, Democratic women, last week said that it has heard from more than 11,000 women this year interested in running for office, up from 900 in 2016.

Energy from the march may have already played a part in a couple of elections. Political scientist Banaczak said she believes the Women’s March boosted Democrats in recent special elections in normally-red congressional districts.

“I see Kansas and Georgia, those elections, as really being a sign that that mobilization is continuing,” she said.

“I know there’s not a direct connection necessarily,” she added. “But I suspect a lot of that connection was from individuals inspired by either seeing the march or participating in it.”

By virtue of its massive scope and the fact that it took place immediately after inauguration, the Women’s March also set the stage for further demonstrations, including the April 22 March for Science.

“Seeing that many passionate people mobilized by a common cause sparked many in our community to think: why can’t we do that for science?” said Lucky Tran, one of the science march organizers.

Can the enthusiasm last?

Many of the Women’s March participants were electrified in the days and weeks after the action. Emboldened by the new sense of community, people like Ressel and Schlack made calls and sent emails and organized meetings about how to oppose Trump’s policies.

But it’s six months until the next Election Day, a year and a half until midterms, and almost four years until the next presidential election. If the movement sparked by the Women’s March — and the broader “resistance movement” — wants to change policy, that’s a long fight. And some activists, like Schlack, say they only have enough energy to fight for the issues they care about.

“There’s so much terrible stuff happening on so many fronts,” said Schlack. “It’s like whack-a-mole. You kind of have to choose. At least for myself, I had to choose: ‘Where am I going to concentrate my efforts?’ “

And it’s safe to say that most of the people marching on Jan. 21 are not full-time activists. Ressel said that her action happens “in waves, depending on what is going on in my life.”

As the memories of all those pink-hatted mobs recedes into the past, the challenge is keeping lots of people motivated to do less glamorous work, like organizing.

“Yes, one important question is whether activists will maintain this level of mobilization in the future,” Banaszak said, adding that translating energy into “on-the-ground work” will be an ongoing challenge. But she also added that the existing political establishment should be thinking about how to combine forces with all these new voices.

“How the Democratic Party adapts to the influx of new activists will be important as well,” Banaszak said. In a party that was split — to a damaging effect — in the 2016 presidential election, making sure everyone feels integrated will be a unique challenge. After its own fissures in 2010, the Republican Party brought in a crowd of Tea Party members. But even today, those splits within the party continue to make legislating difficult.

“I am always concerned about our ability to sustain our activist energy, but also old enough to know that even when movements appear to be dead (e.g. the Occupy movement), they’re often just dormant and once again erupt when conditions are right,” Schlack said in an email, pointing to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ popularity in the 2016 Democratic primaries as proof.

Then again, even electing one major symbol of a “movement” — like Sanders or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren — would not necessarily be a success to some former Occupy Wall Street supporters.

“I think that one of the things that’s happened is we’ve changed basically our metric of success, so we have started calling things that are failures a success,” said activist Micah White, co-creator of Occupy. “If you were an activist in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, success meant revolution in your lifetime. That’s what it meant.”

While people have cited the Fight for $15 campaign for a higher minimum wage and the increased dialogue about inequality as progress, White believes those are far too small of wins to consider the movement a “success.”

To him, resistors like Women’s March attendees should aim to get to a place where the movement, standing alone, can establish itself and win a political office — he points to Iceland’s Pirate Party or Italy’s Five Star Movement as examples.

And he thinks American women have the capacity to do that.

“For me, I absolutely believe that women will become the major force of the next great social movement.”

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Paradise Lost: Luxury Music Festival Turns Out To Be Half-Built Scene Of Chaos

Fyre Festival attendees walk around the event site on Thursday night in Grand Exuma, Bahamas. Festival goers had paid thousands of dollars for villas and lodges on the beach, but instead found a chaotic tent city.

Miles Braun

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Miles Braun

Perhaps you’re a person who buys festival wear but finds Coachella too plebian. Perhaps you find other music festivals off-putting because you can’t bring your own yacht. Or maybe you just think it sounds awesome to hang out on an island in the Bahamas and you have a few thousand dollars to blow.

In that case the Fyre Festival was supposed to be the event – nay, cultural moment! – for you.

(And yes, that’s FYRE, not fire, because it was going to be LIT. And also because Fyre Media Inc. is the name of rapper Ja Rule’s talent-booking company, which organized the luxstravaganza, or #dumpsterfyre, as you’ll soon see.)

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In a promo video posted in January full of frolicking models, the Fyre Festival promised (in seemingly random order) “the best in food, art, music and adventure / once owned by Pablo Escobar / on the boundaries of the impossible / Fyre is an experience and festival / A quest / to push beyond those boundaries.”

Thursday was to be the first day of the two-weekend festival.

“You’ll be flown roundtrip on a custom, VIP configured Boeing 737 aircraft between Miami International Airport and Exuma International Airport on Great Exuma,” said the festival’s website. “Guests will be staying in modern, eco-friendly, geodesic domes. … Unplug from the everyday and ignite your flame in the Exumas.”

The acts scheduled to perform included Major Lazer and Blink-182, as well as a DJ “who specializes in producing ’70s and ’80s rock remixes for clients that include Middle Eastern and European royalty,” as The Wall Street Journalreported.

The organizers built buzz by having celebrities tweet and Instagram about the festival. In a now-deleted tweet from March 27, Ja Rule wrote, “This is where the cool kids will be April 27-30 May 5-8!!! #fyrefestival #fyre.”

Ticket prices were steep – but of course they were, since it was going to be “the cultural event of the decade.” The Los Angeles Timesreported in January that passes, which included accommodations and chartered flights from Miami, started at $1,595 and ranged to $399,995, which included dinner with a performer. (Though prices varied widely according to accommodation, and attendees interviewed by NPR said tickets could be had for as little has $900.)

But there were signs of trouble in paradise.

According to Journal’s article from April 2, the organizers missed a series of payments to performers, though it had begun making progress in paying them. The newspaper noted that festivals typically lose money in their early years, and face high upfront costs.

No matter. Just days before the festival was to begin, @FyreFestival was shaking the sand out of its hair and Instagramming without concern.

A post shared by FYRE FESTIVAL (@fyrefestival) on Apr 25, 2017 at 6:09pm PDT

But there was to be no dancing on the beach.

Yesterday, ticketholders began arriving at the festival, and found the site in disarray. Instead of the promised (and paid for) villas and lodges, festivalgoers found instead row after row of the same white tents.

“You just get dropped off on this island, and you’re just standing there,” said Seth Crossno, who had flown to the Bahamas with three other friends from Raleigh. “It looked like a disaster relief area.” He said that cars and trucks were driving around, and that shipping containers littered the area.

This sums up Fyre Festival. #fyre#fyrefestival#fyrefestpic.twitter.com/x4xcFBL8Yg

— William N. Finley IV (@WNFIV) April 28, 2017

Crossno said a man stood on a table shouting out directives.

“They had no way to communicate with anybody,” said Crossno. “I don’t know why no one went on the main stage and got on the microphone to get the crowd’s attention and tell people what was going on. Just total incompetence.” He added that house music blared in the background.

He estimated that a thousand people were there, and more kept arriving.

Crossno arrived at the festival around 5:30 p.m. Thursday night, and within a couple of hours, he and his friends were trying to get off the island. “It was a huge mess from the start,” he said. Together, Crossno said he and his friends paid about $12,000 to attend.

The festival started arranging flights to get people back to Miami, including one that Crossno was able to get on.

The view from Fyre Festival.

Miles Braun

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Miles Braun

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism tweeted out a statement Friday morning, saying it was “extremely disappointed in the way the events unfolded yesterday” and said that although it was not an official sponsor of the festival, it had lent its support when asked. “The event organizers assured is that all measures were taken to ensure a safe and successful event but clearly they did not have the capacity to execute an event of this scale.”

It added that it hopes festival visitors would consider returning to the Bahamas in the future “to truly experience all of our beauty.”

Not long after, the Fyre Festival website posted its own statement:

Fyre Festival set out to provide a once-in-a-lifetime musical experience on the Islands of the Exumas.

Due to circumstances out of our control, the physical infrastructure was not in place on time and we are unable to fulfill on that vision safely and enjoyably for our guests. At this time, we are working tirelessly to get flights scheduled and get everyone off of Great Exuma and home safely as quickly as we can. We ask that guests currently on-island do not make their own arrangements to get to the airport as we are coordinating those plans. We are working to place everyone on complimentary charters back to Miami today; this process has commenced and the safety and comfort of our guests is our top priority.

The festival is being postponed until we can further assess if and when we are able to create the high- quality experience we envisioned.

We ask for everyone’s patience and cooperation during this difficult time as we work as quickly and safely as we can to remedy this unforeseeable situation. We will continue to provide regular updates via email to our guests and via our official social media channels as they become available.

-The Fyre Festival Team

Whether the circumstances were truly out of the Fyre Festival’s control will probably be a matter for the lawyers. Crossno, who on Friday morning was back in Miami after a very strange trip, said that if he doesn’t get his money back, he will sue.

But first, he has a warning for those who bought tickets for next weekend: “Do not go to this festival,” he said. “It’s a scam. It’s not real.”

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'Shaving Cats!!??' Virginia police probe seven pet abductions

Police and townsfolk in Waynesboro, Virginia, are trying to figure out why someone is abducting pet cats and returning them with hairless underbellies.

Since December, at least seven cats have suddenly shown up at their homes with shaved belly, groin and leg areas, Waynesboro Police Captain Kelly Walker said on Friday.

“The shaving appears to be almost surgical,” Walker said.

No harm was done to the animals, but they “seemed a little skittish” after the curious incidents, he said.

The occurrences came to the attention of police when an owner asked about posting flyers to encourage the public to report suspicious activity to authorities.

“Shaving Cats!!??” says the poster in Waynesboro, a city of 21,000 about 140 miles (225 km) southwest of Washington, D.C.

“Several neighborhood cats have been ABDUCTED and had their lower abdomens and groin areas SHAVED. This is very upsetting to the cats and their owners,” the poster says.

Walker said the cats were collar-wearing, well-groomed pets, not strays or feral cats, although some were outdoor cats. All of them had been either neutered and spayed before the shaving incidents, he said.

The investigation focuses on five cats – some of whom were shaved twice – from one household and two cats from another, who came home partially hairless three weeks ago.

“Probably the best solution is for whoever is doing this to just stop,” Walker said.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Sheryl Crow On World Cafe

Sheryl Crow’s new album, Be Myself, is out now.

Mark Seliger/Courtesy of the artist

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Mark Seliger/Courtesy of the artist

  • “Halfway There”
  • “Everyday Is A Winding Road”
  • “Be Myself”

Sheryl Crow’s brand-new album, out Friday, is inspired by the spirit of her big hits from the ’90s. Be Myself is a return to her roots in rock ‘n’ roll, after she made a big change and went country in 2013. She says she found a different set of rules apply to promoting a country record:

There’s a lot that goes into it, with making yourself available to radio programmers, and they don’t play women very much. And I just spent far too many nights away from my children to play at free gigs for radio stations, you know, in order to maybe get played between 3 and 4 in the morning.

In this session, Crow and her band perform new music from Be Myself — plus one of her biggest hits. Listen in the player above.

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PHOTOS: See The Sweeping American Landscapes Under Review By Trump

Three of the national monuments now under review by the Department of the Interior: (from left to right) Gold Butte in Nevada, the Pacific Remote Islands and Giant Sequoia in Northern California.

Bureau of Land Management/Flickr; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Flickr; David McNew/Getty Images

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Bureau of Land Management/Flickr; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Flickr; David McNew/Getty Images

President Trump has ordered the Department of the Interior to review all designations of national monuments greater than 100,000 acres created since 1996.

That executive order, which he signed Wednesday, places at least 20 — and as many as 40 — monuments in the government’s sights. The areas now under review span a vast range of landscapes — from arid deserts to frozen mountain peaks, from striking craggy vistas to teeming underwater playgrounds.

And, though these monuments were all established roughly in the past two decades, they all have a history more than a century long. That’s because all of them owe their existence to the 1906 Antiquities Act, a law signed by President Theodore Roosevelt that makes it a federal crime to destroy or alter ancient artifacts and ruins on federal land.

The act also gives the president the authority to designate national monuments.

More recently, with most large public lands protection bills stalled in Congress, presidents from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush and Barack Obama have used the act as a tool to protect sweeping amounts of federal land mostly in the West.

President Obama’s late hour designation of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, for instance, protects more than a million acres — even though the Antiquities Act specifies that monuments designated by a president “in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible.”

It’s this perceived overreach that partly spurred Trump to sign his executive order.

But if, after the review, Trump also decides to bypass Congress and act by executive order to shrink or even nullify any of the monuments, a court challenge is all but guaranteed.

“The Antiquities Act expressly authorizes the President to create a national monument, but it does not authorize a later President to revoke or modify a national monument,” says Prof. Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond School of Law.

So, what are the landscapes that have drawn Trump’s scrutiny? Click on the links below — or simply scroll down — for a visual introduction to many of the national monuments now under review:

President Clinton:

Grand Staircase-Escalante, Grand Canyon-Parashant, Giant Sequoia, Canyons of the Ancients, Hanford Reach, Ironwood Forest, Vermillion Cliffs, Carrizo Plain, Sonoran Desert, Upper Missouri River Breaks

President George W. Bush:

Papahānaumokuākea(expanded by 300,000 acres under President Obama), Pacific Remote Islands(expanded by 300,000 acres under Obama)

President Barack Obama:

Rio Grande del Norte, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, San Gabriel Mountains, Berryessa Snow Mountain, Basin and Range, Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, Bears Ears, Gold Butte


Grand Staircase-Escalante (Utah)

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah is about the size of the state of Delaware. One of its best-known features is a host of toadstool-like rocks littering the landscape.


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James Marvin Phelps/Flickr

This vast expanse of canyons — stretching across roughly 1.7 million acres of southern Utah — is likely the earliest designated national monument now under review. Established by presidential order in 1996, the Delaware-sized Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument earns its name from a series of plateaus so starkly separated by cliff faces they resemble an eye-catching staircase — or, as the monument’s website quips, a “starecase.”


Grand Canyon-Parashant (Arizona)

The Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument is a landscape of crags and stunning depths in northern Arizona.


Bob Wick, BLM/Flickr
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Bob Wick, BLM/Flickr

Nearly as large as the Grand Staircase is its neighbor to the southwest, Arizona’s Grand Canyon-Pararashant National Monument. The first monument to be designated in Clinton’s final year in office, Parashant packs just over a million acres in its expanses. According to the National Park Service, nearly 20 bat species have been identified in the area, and scientists have used the monument for nearly two decades as a fertile ground for research.


Giant Sequoia (California)

A giant sequoia tree dwarfs the surrounding forest along the Trail of the 100 Giants in the Sequoia National Monument in Northern California. It’s among these massive trees that President Clinton proclaimed the monument.

David McNew/Getty Images

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David McNew/Getty Images

Here be giants. In the Giant Sequoia National Monument, which exceeds 320,000 acres in Northern California, some of the world’s largest trees tower above the forest floor. Perhaps the most famous of these are the 100 Giants, a misleadingly named grove of more than 700 giant sequoias where Clinton proclaimed the creation of the monument in April 2000.


Canyons of the Ancients (Colorado)

The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado contains ruins that date back centuries.


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Bob Wick, BLM/Flickr

Where the monuments above celebrate natural splendor, the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument instead sets aside the works of humans. A landscape that contains the “highest known density of archaeological sites in the United States,” according to Mesa Verde Country, the monument’s 176,000 acres in southwest Colorado contain thousands of ancient Native American sites — including the ruins set against the starry night sky above.


Hanford Reach (Washington)

The Hanford Reach lines Washington’s Columbia River. In addition to its wildlife, the national monument also hosts vestiges of U.S. history: defunct Cold War-era plutonium reactors.


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Nicholas Blumhardt/Flickr

The massive bluffs of Hanford Reach line a stretch of the Columbia River in southern Washington state. Signed into existence by President Clinton in 2000, the Hanford Reach National Monument sets aside nearly 200,000 acres of land reminding visitors not simply of the region’s natural features. On this land also stand the remnants of defunct American plutonium reactors, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says were used in the production of nuclear weapons in World War II and the Cold War.


Ironwood Forest (Arizona)

Ironwood Forest National Monument.


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Bob Wick, BLM/Flickr

Deep in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona stand the roughly 125,000 acres of Ironwood Forest National Monument. Established on the same date as the Hanford Reach and the Canyons of the Ancients, Ironwood Forest also bears traces of the human hand, with hundreds of archaeological sites scattered across the arid landscape. Amid the cacti and crags rest ruins that date from ancient hunter-gatherer societies up to the 19th century.


Vermilion Cliffs (Arizona)

The Vermillion Cliffs National Monument hosts not only the vivid hues of the sunset, but a winged visitor too: the California condor, which conservationists hope will find a more hospitable home here.

David McNew/Getty Images

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David McNew/Getty Images

Just south of the Utah border, Arizona’s Vermillion Cliffs National Monument protects nearly 300,000 acres of the kinds of sights that make nature photographers drool. But the monument, which was proclaimed just days after Election Day in 2000, has also proved to be an important draw for another visitor to the region: the endangered California condor, which has been introduced in the remote landscape to try to grow its anemic population.


Carrizo Plain (California)

Wildflowers cover the hills of the Tremblor Range in Carrizo Plain National Monument near Taft, Calif., during a wildflower “super bloom” earlier this month.

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

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Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Speaking of attractions for nature photographers, the Carrizo Plain National Monument has been getting its fair share of attention lately, as well. That’s because, after years of drought, a recent spate of rain has set this Central Californian grassland plain ablaze with a bloom of wildflowers. In fact, Carrizo’s 200,000 acres have made for such a spectacular sight, they’ve earned a rather fitting moniker: super bloom. President Clinton designated this area as a national monument in the waning days of his administration in 2001, along with the next two regions on this list.


Sonoran Desert (Arizona)

Like a good cactus? It’s clear the Sonoran Desert National Monument in Arizona is right up your alley.

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John Miller/AP

Nearly half a million acres have been set aside for the Sonoran Desert National Monument, a region that promises visitors a whole lot of sun-bleached browns and greens. Proclaimed in 2001 on the same date as the Carrizo Plain and the Upper Missouri River Breaks, the Sonoran Desert generally bears fewer breathtaking sights than its counterparts, its designation aimed primarily at protection — for the area’s ancient relics and wildlife.


Upper Missouri River Breaks (Montana)

Located near Fort Benton, Mont., the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument has drawn a vast variety of fauna to its river shores.


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Bureau of Land Management/Flickr

A member of the last crop of Clinton’s designations, the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument contains about 375,000 acres of land.

“Glaciers, volcanic activity, and erosion have since folded, faulted, uplifted, and sculpted the landscape to the majestic form it takes today,” the Bureau of Land Management says, noting the vast abundance of wildlife that continue to make the river region their home.


Papahānaumokuākea

Waves crash on the shores of Midway Atoll in the Papahānaumokuākea National Monument.

Ronen Zilberman/AP

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Ronen Zilberman/AP

Established first by President George W. Bush as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument in 2006, then given its Hawaiian name Papahānaumokuākea in 2007, this monument received a massive expansion under President Obama before he left office. Now it stands at around 400,000 acres of islands, atolls and coral reefs — home to more than 7,000 marine species 14 million seabirds.

It’s also home to the Midway Atoll, where the pivotal Battle of Midway unfolded between the U.S. and Japan in 1942. Resting as it does smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Midway offered the U.S. a crucial victory early in the war — and for that reason, the monument stands large in the American imagination for more than its wildlife.


Pacific Remote Islands

The Palmyra Atoll, home to shallow water flats, is one of the many islands, atolls and reefs that make up the Pacific Remote Islands National Monument.


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Kydd Pollock, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Flickr

Southwest of Hawaii stands the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, a cluster of territories proclaimed just before Bush left office in 2009. Obama expanded on Bush’s proclamation in 2014, adding more than 300,000 acres to its expanse and making the Pacific Remote Islands the largest marine reserve in the world, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Rio Grande del Norte (New Mexico)

The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument features great heights, like this peak towering over the snow.


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Bob Wick, BLM/Flickr

Proclaimed a national monument in 2013, Rio Grande del Norte in northern New Mexico is littered with volcanic cones and canyons. Its 240,000 acres are a tale of great heights and depths, with its peaks reaching as high as 10,000 feet and carved deeply by a gorge that winds its way through.


Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks (New Mexico)

One of the first national monuments designated by Obama, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks stands in southern New Mexico.


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Bob Wick, BLM/Flickr

Almost half a million acres make up the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in southern New Mexico, where spires lean over the Chihuahuan Desert.

“Despite [an] abundance of wildlands, wildlife, and natural beauty, these lands are under constant threat from a wide range of modern-day activities,” according to the monument’s website.

“From urban sprawl to potential mining for rare earth minerals; from proposals for energy development to an explosion of off-road vehicles, these lands are under siege and need the protections that only a National Monument can provide.”


San Gabriel Mountains (California)

The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument sits on more than 300,000 acres of Angeles National Forest, an area often at risk of wildfire — as in 2009, when smoke settled the forest in an orange haze.

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David McNew/Getty Images

The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument covers about 345,000 acres of forests near Los Angeles, spanning part of the San Andreas Fault and a hefty chunk of the Angeles National Forest. It was established in 2014 under Obama.


Berryessa Snow Mountain (California)

The Cache Creek Wilderness, part of Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument.


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Bob Wick, BLM/Flickr

This 330,00-acre monument in Northern California sits just north of Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay. Dense with wildlife and centuries-old artifacts of Native American civilization, Berryessa Snow Mountain is also “home to some of the rarest plants on Earth – particularly delicate serpentine plants clinging to otherwise barren and rocky mountainsides,” according to the U.S. Forest Service.


Basin and Range (Nevada)

In remote southeastern Nevada, the Basin and Range National Monument‘s “vast, rugged landscape redefines our notions of distance and space and brings into sharp focus the will and resolve of the people who have lived here,” according to the Bureau of Land Management, which administers the area.

More than 700,000 acres are contained within its borders, which were delimited by Obama’s proclamation in July 2015.


Mojave Trails (California)

The Mojave Trails National Monument stretches for about a million and a half acres in the California desert.


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Bureau of Land Management/Flickr

One of the largest monuments now in Trump’s cross-hairs, Mojave Trails in the California desert spans about 1.6 million acres near the state’s southeast border.

“The Mojave Trails area includes sand dunes, ancient lava flows, 550 million-year-old fossil beds and the Sleeping Beauty Valley, a remarkably intact West Mojave Desert ecosystem,” the local Desert Sun newspaper reported in February last year, when the region was proclaimed a national monument.

“The monument will protect irreplaceable historic resources including ancient Native American trading routes, World War II-era training camps, and the longest remaining undeveloped stretch of Route 66,” the Obama administration said at the time.


Sand to Snow (California)

Just east of Los Angeles, the Sand to Snow National Monument is as diverse as it name implies, comprising both desert climes and cold mountain air.


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Natividad Chavez, BLM/Flickr

As its name suggests, the Sand to Snow National Monument stretches 154,000 acres from the desert floor to the frosty heights of Mount San Gorgionio east of LA. Also proclaimed in February last year, the monument is administered partly by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.


Bears Ears (Utah)

More than any other monument on this list, Bears Ears has attracted criticism from Republican lawmakers for federal overreach. At 1.35 million acres, the national monument is also among the largest in the country.


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Bob Wick, BLM/Flickr

The only national monument to be named specifically in Trump’s executive order, Bears Ears has been a point of significant controversy since it was created in December last year. Republicans point to its establishment as an example of severe executive overreach, saying its 1.35-million-acre expanse is gratuitous and unfairly encroaches on the rights of Utah residents, who cannot develop oil and gas drilling or expand cattle grazing on the land.

But for the region’s Native American tribes, who see the site as sacred, the national monument designation was a massive victory they are prepared to defend.

“I’m standing for what my people are wanting,” Davis Filfred, Navajo Nation Council Delegate in Utah, tells NPR, “and I’ll continue to stand and fight for what’s right.”


Gold Butte (Nevada)

The Gold Butte National Monument in southeastern Nevada was established in the waning days of Obama’s presidency last year. It covers roughly 300,000 acres of land.


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Bureau of Land Management/Flickr

Similar to Bears Ears, Nevada’s recently established Gold Butte National Monument has also drawn controversy of its own. Standing at about 300,000 acres, the monument in southwest Nevada rests not far from where Cliven Bundy and fellow local ranchers engaged in an armed standoff with federal law enforcement in 2014.

Together with Bears Ears, Gold Butte protects “some of our country’s most important cultural treasures, including abundant rock art, archeological sites, and lands considered sacred by Native American tribes,” Obama said in a statement last December.

But as resentment against perceived federal encroachment has risen in the area, so too had fears for the safety of law enforcement officers in the area.

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