Donald Trump disses America’s space program

Image: Donald Trump
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump looks upward as he discusses his policy agenda at a town hall meeting in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Credit: Donald Trump Speeches & Events via YouTube)

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has been going through a series of reversals this week, and today’s highlights include the dissing of America’s space program.

“Someone just asked me backstage, ‘Mr. Trump, will you get involved in the space program?’” he said during a town hall in Daytona Beach. Fla. “Look what’s happened with your employment. Look what’s happened with our whole history of space and leadership. Look what’s going on, folks. We’re like a Third World nation.”

The rare reference to space policy was sandwiched within nearly an hour’s worth of campaign rhetoric, and the comments catered to a Florida crowd. Employment on the Space Coast was hit hard by the space shuttle fleet’s retirement in 2011. Thousands of jobs were lost.

Now Florida’s aerospace jobs are starting to come back, thanks to SpaceX’s launches and landings, NASA’s commercial crew program, the development of the Orion crew vehicle, Blue Origin’s orbital space program and other ventures. Nevertheless, complaints about jobs resonate with Floridians who suffered through the post-shuttle blues and the Obama administration’s cancellation of the Constellation back-to-the-moon program.

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Trump blasts Bezos and his newspaper (again)

Image: Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at a U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum in Seattle in September 2015.

Billionaire presidential candidate Donald Trump took aim once again at Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos as he revoked the campaign credentials for the newspaper Bezos owns, The Washington Post.

Today the presumptive GOP nominee added the Post to a list of banned media outlets that also includes BuzzFeed, The Daily Beast, The Des Moines Register, The Huffington Post, the New Hampshire Union Leader, The Huffington Post, Politico, Univision and others. Reporters from banned outlets have been denied credentials to cover Trump’s campaign events.

The reason for today’s ban was the headline on a Post story reporting Trump’s criticism of President Barack Obama over his response to this weekend’s mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

The original headline read “Donald Trump Suggests President Obama Was Involved With Orlando shooting.” That headline was changed to “Donald Trump Seems to Connect President Obama to Orlando Shooting,” but not before Trump lowered the boom on Facebook.

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Elon Musk turns the talk from Trump to Mars

Image: Elon Musk and Barack Obama
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk shows President Barack Obama around the company’s Cape Canaveral rocket processing site in 2010. (Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA)

SpaceX’s billionaire founder, Elon Musk, has had to bat down all sorts of reports about political associations over the past couple of weeks – and the strategy that seems to work the best is to get people talking about sending humans to Mars. Maybe including the politicians.

The political angle cropped up in February when the Center for Responsive Politics listed SpaceX as one of the donors to GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump. It turned out that the listing was an error, later corrected, but Musk found himself having to deny the Trump contributions via Twitter.

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Political markets sense disturbance in the force

Image: Rubio and Trump
GOP presidential hopefuls Mario Rubio and Donald Trump tangle at October debate. (Credit: CNBC)

Although Donald Trump has long dominated coverage of the GOP presidential campaign, electoral prediction markets have been favoring Marco Rubio instead. Until now.

The shift in support could be a significant signal, because over the years, prediction markets have chalked up at least as good a record as traditional political polling when it comes to handicapping elections.

The concept, pioneered by the Iowa Electronic Markets, involves letting “traders” buy shares in a given proposition. The proposition may be that the Seahawks will win the Super Bowl, or that Trump will win the GOP nomination.

In a winner-take-all market, the price of a share can rise or fall depending on the demand. If the prediction you’ve invested in comes true, you’re paid a specified amount – say, $1 per share. But if you’re wrong, you get nothing.

It may sound like Vegas betting, but economic researchers use the method to study how the “wisdom of crowds” can affect market movements. The concept has come into play in other settings as well, ranging from anticipating flu outbreaks topredicting whether a Microsoft project will stay on track.

For 20 years, presidential elections have provided valuable test cases for prediction markets. “It really does well in primaries, especially early,” said David Rothschild, an economist at Microsoft Research in New York City.

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