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Fyre Festival organiser jailed for six years after pleading guilty to fraud over disastrous event

Fyre Festival organiser jailed for six years after pleading guilty to fraud over disastrous eventThe entrepreneur behind a luxury music festival in the Bahamas that collapsed in chaos in 2017 was sentenced to six years in prison by a US judge on Thursday after admitting fraud. Billy McFarland, 26, was the force behind the Fyre Festival, which billed itself as the ultimate upscale getaway amid a fast-growing market for music events. Hundreds of partygoers headed to the Bahamas, some paying more than $100,000 each, but instead found tents that wouldn't have looked out of place in relief camps and cuisine that was just rudimentary sandwiches. "Today, McFarland found out the hard way that empty promises don't lead to jet-setting, champagne and extravagant parties - they lead to federal prison," said US Attorney for Manhattan, Geoffrey Berman. The New Yorker admitted wire fraud, bank fraud and making false statements in a two-pronged plea in March and July. Had he gone to trial and been convicted, he could have faced 20 years in prison. In addition to his jail time, he was ordered to forfeit $26 million. Prosecutors said McFarland repeatedly misrepresented himself to build his Fyre Media tech company and the ill-fated festival. Tents and mattresses being set up for the festival Credit: Jake Strang He falsified statements to show investors that his company earned millions of dollars from April 2016 and February 2017 through talent bookings, which in reality has grossed just $57,443, prosecutors said. The US Attorney's office said that at least 80 investors fell victim to his scheme, losing more than $24 million. McFarland also falsely boasted about Magnises, a credit card and private club geared at millennials, prosecutors said. He told investors that he sold Magnises for $40 million while in truth no sale had taken place, they said. In the first damages awarded, a judge in North Carolina earlier this year handed two fans each $1.5 million in compensation, plus $1 million each in punitive damages, far more than the minimum sought. Seth Crossno and Mark Thompson said that they shelled out $13,000 with a promise of exclusive accommodation on a private island but instead wound up in a relief camp-style tent and left when they felt unsafe. Numerous festival-goers posted pictures on social media of shambolic scenes, leading to online mockery of the high prices many had paid. The dinner that @fyrefestival promised us was catered by Steven Starr is literally bread, cheese, and salad with dressing. #fyrefestivalpic.twitter.com/I8d0UlSNbd— Tr3vor (@trev4president) April 28, 2017 The Fyre Festival was abruptly canceled and attendees evacuated, leading to online mockery of many of the young fans who had bought into the advertising of the event as a uniquely high-end music party. The government of the Bahamas, a country of more than 700 islands where tourism is the largest industry, apologized and assisted in evacuations - but stressed it was not involved directly in the event.


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Turkey 'has recordings of Jamal Khashoggi's torture and murder in Saudi consulate'

Turkey 'has recordings of Jamal Khashoggi's torture and murder in Saudi consulate'Turkish intelligence reportedly have audio and video recordings from inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where Jamal Khashoggi’s Saudi captors can be heard interrogating, torturing, and ultimately murdering him.  US officials have been told by their Turkish counterparts that the recordings prove beyond doubt that the Saudi journalist was killed and dismembered by a team of Saudi operatives, according to the Washington Post.     Turkey has not released the recordings nor officially confirmed that they exist, although pro-government Turkish media has alluded to them several times in recent days. Saudi Arabia has vehemently denied that it was involved in Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance on October 2 and has insisted that he left the consulate safely after filing paperwork related to his upcoming marriage.  However, as anger towards Riyadh mounted in Washington and Turkish officials claimed to have comprehensive evidence of Saudi guilt, there were some indications the Saudi position may be shifting.  Turkey announced on Thursday that it had accepted a Saudi offer to form a joint investigation into the case, a sign of a possible thaw between the two sides after more than a week of standoff.  The Saudi ambassador to Washington, Khalid bin Salman, also abruptly returned home for consultations. “We expect some information when he gets back,” said Heather Nauert, spokeswoman for the US State Department.  The consul-general's residence, where police suspect the body may have been disposed of Credit: AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis On the recordings, the Saudi men can reportedly be heard questioning Mr Khashoggi in Arabic.   “You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered,” one person told the Post.  The recordings also reportedly show that members of the 15-man squad went from the Saudi consulate building to the nearby residence of the Saudi consul-general.  Turkish investigators believe that Mr Khashoggi’s body may have been disposed of at the residence.  Turkish media reported that police were also interested in a Saudi diplomatic van which went for a long drive on the eastern side of Istanbul, where there is less CCTV coverage, on the day of the disappearance.   The fallout from the journalist’s disappearance continued to batter the reformist image of Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, who has presented himself as a modernising force in the conservative kingdom.  Turkey has leaked CCTV footage of the Saudi team in Istanbul Credit: Sabah Newspaper / AFP Sir Richard Branson said he was suspending business dealings with the Saudi government until Mr Khashoggi’s fate is known.  “What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi Government,” he said in a statement.  A number of high-profile media figures have pulled out of Crown Prince Mohammed’s annual conference, nicknamed “Davos in the Desert”, amid the allegations.  A tech executive and a former US energy secretary both stepped back from an advisory board on a new high-tech city Crown Prince Mohammed is building. 


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NASA says will use Russia's Soyuz despite rocket failure

NASA chief Jim Bridenstine on Friday praised the Russian space programme and said he expected a new crew to go to the International Space Station in December despite a rocket failure. "I fully anticipate that we will fly again on a Soyuz rocket and I ...

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Trump wary of halting Saudi weapons sales over missing journalist

Trump also said the United States may be closer to finding out what happened to Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi policies who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkish sources have said they believe Khashoggi was ...

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Trump’s Pressure on Kim Fades as Ally Floats Sanctions Relief

Lately, though, there’s been more talk about relieving sanctions on Kim Jong Un’s regime. The latest sign came Wednesday after China said it had agreed with North Korea and Russia “it was time to start considering the adjustment” of United Nations san...

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Trump’s Pressure on Kim Fades as Ally Floats Sanctions Relief

Lately, though, there’s been more talk about relieving sanctions on Kim Jong Un’s regime. The latest sign came Wednesday after China said it had agreed with North Korea and Russia “it was time to start considering the adjustment” of United Nations san...

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Washington State ends 'arbitrary, racially biased' death penalty

The Supreme Court in the northwestern US state of Washington on Thursday ended use of the "racially biased" death penalty and immediately converted all death sentences to life imprisonment. Washington, where there have been no executions since 2010, b...

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Space crew survives plunge to Earth after Russian rocket fails

The two-man crew, Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and American Nick Hague, landed unharmed on the Kazakh desert steppe as rescue crews raced to reach them, according to the U.S. space agency NASA and Russia's space agency Roscosmos. The mishap occur...

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