×
March 18, 2019

The chaos that is Brexit continued in classic form on Monday, despite a reprieve from the voting carousel that took place last week, as the March 29 departure deadline rapidly approaches.

The speaker of Britain's House of Commons, John Bercow, said on Monday that he plans to block a third vote on Prime Minister Theresa May's European Union withdrawal agreement — which faced two resounding defeats in Parliament already — unless May could present a "substantially" different deal this time around.

Adding to the drama is the fact that Bercow did not notify May's office of his decision ahead of time, which subsequently, The Washington Post reports, created "further uncertainty" about Brexit's future.

"We are in a major constitutional crisis here," Robert Buckland, the government's solicitor general, told BBC in a television interview, per The New York Times.

Parliament is still waiting to hear whether Brussels will agree to an extension of Article 50 that would delay Brexit beyond March 29, but, as May has noted, an extension could only prolong the problem. Still, the prime minister will travel to EU headquarters on Thursday to attempt to broker an agreement. Tim O'Donnell

4:19 p.m.

Drones are all the rage now, but can you imagine one the size of a bug?

Meet the RoboBee X-Wing, a new robot created by scientists at Harvard University. Standing under three inches tall, with a wingspan of less than two inches, this tiny machine flaps its little wings 170 times a second. It also runs on solar power, starting to fly whenever its solar cells are exposed to light. This makes it the lightest device ever to fly without being attached to an external power source, New Scientist reports.

Currently, it's not quite ready to be flying outdoors — it needs light three times as intense as sunlight, so it needs some improvements before it can embark on its first real expedition. But one day, the RoboBee might be used to monitor the environment, or get into spaces too small for people or other robots. At its size, it's even light enough to "land on a leaf," said Noah Jafferis, one of the RoboBee's creators.

You can read the study detailing the RoboBee X-Wing's capabilities at Nature, or watch it fly below. Shivani Ishwar

4:01 p.m.

The popular pro-Trump Reddit community The_Donald has been quarantined due to posts that reportedly encouraged violence.

Reddit users who visit The_Donald, the subreddit for Trump supporters that currently has more than 750,000 users, will now first be presented with a warning message saying the community has been "restricted due to significant issues with reporting and addressing violations of the Reddit Content Policy," including "threats of violence against police and public officials." The subreddit has not been banned, and clicking "continue" will bring up the regular page.

According to Reddit's policies, while quarantined, The_Donald will not appear in the site's search or recommendations, and it will not generate revenue.

An announcement on the page from a Reddit moderator details the decision, saying there has been "repeated rule-breaking behavior" in the community and telling the subreddit's moderators there has been an "overreliance" on Reddit admins to remove content encouraging or inciting violence. The violent content in question reportedly concerned police and public officials in Oregon; Media Matters had recently detailed such posts in an article.

The admin goes on to tell the community's moderators that they must "unambiguously communicate to your subscribers that violent content is unacceptable." This post attracted thousands of comments from users of The_Donald, who expressed outrage at the decision and suggested it was made for political reasons.

The_Donald is considered to be one of the biggest online hubs of Trump supporters, and the president himself visited the subreddit to take questions in 2016. He has also at times posted content that originated from The_Donald on his official Twitter account. Brendan Morrow

3:46 p.m.

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took humankind's first steps on the moon, they weren't just taking a stroll. They also collected 48 samples of lunar rocks, bringing them back home so that scientists could examine them ... eventually.

Now, 50 years after the first men walked on the moon, scientists are finally getting their hands on the original samples collected on Apollo missions from 1969 to 1972. The lunar samples have been kept in a locked vault at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Fox News reports, waiting for the wonders that 21st-century scientific technology will be able to learn from them.

That was a pretty wise move on the part of NASA officials back in the 70s, said Ryan Zeigler, a sample curator for NASA's Apollo missions. "We can do more with a milligram than we could do with a gram back then," so we can still conserve most of the sample material gathered decades ago. The samples being sent out now range from the weight of a paper clip to so small "you can barely measure it," Zeigler said.

In total, 842 pounds worth of lunar samples were collected on the Apollo missions, collected by 12 astronauts — the only 12 people who have ever walked on the moon. But NASA's new plan will soon expand that number: By 2024, it aims to send more people to the moon's surface.

Until that happens, these moon rocks are the most tangible link we have with our closest satellite. And now, "a new generation of scientists will help advance our understanding of our lunar neighbor and prepare for the next era of exploration of the moon and beyond," said Thomas Zurbuchen, an administrator at NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

Read more at Fox News. Shivani Ishwar

3:25 p.m.

2020 Democrat John Hickenlooper's name recognition is so low ahead of the first 2020 presidential debates, he almost didn't even get in.

Upon arriving for the event in Miami on Wednesday, Hickenlooper apparently wasn't recognized by security as the former two-term governor of Colorado who announced his candidacy for president nearly four months ago. Instead, he was asked if he was a reporter looking to pick up his credentials, NPR's Scott Detrow reports. "I'm a candidate," Hickenlooper had to say, typically not an ideal sequence of three words to utter during a presidential campaign. Security took his word for it, evidently.

Hickenlooper is set to participate in the second night of debates on Thursday alongside several other candidates who thousands of Americans will no doubt be frantically Googling, from Marianne Williamson to Andrew Yang. After getting inside the venue and speaking to reporters about this embarrassing little confusion, ABC's Rick Klein reports the former governor described this ordeal as the "story of my life." Brendan Morrow

2:44 p.m.

Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have united in hopes of defeating the final boss that is President Trump's proposed China tariffs.

In a joint letter submitted to the Office of the United States Trade Representative's general counsel, the video game companies speak in opposition to Trump's proposed tariffs, which they say would have an "enormous impact" and bring about "undue economic harm." Trump previously imposed a 25 percent tariff on $250 billion of Chinese imports and has threatened to impose tariffs on $300 billion more, per The New York Times. Video game consoles would be affected, and 96 percent of the consoles imported into the United States last year were manufactured in China, the letter says.

The companies say that these tariffs would "add significant costs that would depress sales of video game consoles" and that a price increase of 25 percent "will likely put a new video game console out of reach for many American families who we expect to be in the market for a console this holiday season." Consumers will pay $840 million more than they normally would, the letter says, adding that console sales going down would "unquestionably" lead to a decline in video game sales as well.

On that note, the companies warn that the tariffs will also harm game developers, accessory companies, and retailers and that, therefore, the "ripple effect of harm could be dramatic."

Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony have asked the United States to remove video game consoles from its list of products that would be affected by the tariffs. Trump is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and hold trade talks this weekend, and he said on Wednesday that should the trade talks fail, "we'll do less business with them."

Brendan Morrow

2:28 p.m.

For the first time in three decades, deaths from drug overdose look like they're going to fall instead of rise.

Back in 1990, drug overdoses claimed 8,400 lives in the U.S.; and for every year afterward, the number of deaths has risen, especially in recent years, as the epidemic of opioid addiction takes a heavy toll on parts of the country. While the official total for overdose deaths in 2018 hasn't been confirmed yet, provisional data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention suggests that we might finally be in for a change. The CDC's data from Nov. 2017 to Nov. 2018 counted about 69,100 deaths from drug overdose, compared to 72,300 from Nov. 2016 to Nov. 2017.

But this isn't a sign that the worst is over, The Wall Street Journal explained. While health officials are eager to see any evidence that progress is being made in the fight against overdose deaths, "we shouldn't say oh, we've won," said Robert Anderson, a CDC official.

"The opioid crisis is in early remission, yet at high risk of relapse," said Jim Hall, an epidemiologist at Nova Southeastern University in Florida. But even if this doesn't mean we're out of the worst of the opioid epidemic, these numbers could be a sign that some of our methods for combating overdose deaths are working. In large part, broadened access to naloxone, a drug that can reverse the worse effects of overdose, has been shown to save lives that would otherwise be lost to drug overdose.

The picture is still bleak — overdose deaths are still much higher than "in the peak of the crack-cocaine crisis decades ago," The Wall Street Journal reports. But it's possible that our current methods will help to turn the tide. Shivani Ishwar

2:03 p.m.

President Trump went back to basics on Wednesday, delivering one of his freewheeling speeches before the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Here are three of the wildest moments:

Family Separation — Trump shifted some of the blame for the current situation at the southern border to former President Barack Obama. Trump claimed his administration has taken much better care of the children in detention facilities than his predecessors'.

John McCain — The president might have sneakily continued his feud with his old rival, the late Sen. John McCain. Trump alluded to a few senators who gave him trouble when it came to procuring legislative votes, adding that he's "happy they're gone now." Trump also implied that at least one of them is in an unpleasant place.

While it's possible Trump was not referring to McCain, the smart money says he was.

TiVo — While Trump spent some time criticizing his past political opponents, he made sure to praise one of his favorite inventions of all time — TiVo.

This is not the first time Trump has expressed his bountiful appreciation for the recording device, nor should we expect it to be the last. Tim O'Donnell

See More Speed Reads