"The first casualty of war is truth." -- Rudyard Kipling

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As Russian forces are capturing more territory in eastern Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin is willing to end the war across the current frontlines, according to Reuters. Ukrainian officials rejected the offer.

Four sources speaking with Reuters said that Putin was prepared to freeze war along the current frontlines but was willing to keep fighting if Ukraine and its Western backers rebuked the offer for negotiations. “Putin can fight for as long as it takes, but Putin is also ready for a ceasefire – to freeze the war,” one source said, describing Putin’s position.

When asked by Reuters about talks, Putin responded, “Let them resume.”

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Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced on Wednesday the broadening of a law that will allow Israelis to return to three settlements in the occupied West Bank that were dismantled in 2005.

In 2005, four settlements were dismantled in the West Bank and 21 in Gaza, a move known as the “disengagement.” Last year, the Israeli Knesset passed an amendment to the disengagement law allowing the return to one West Bank settlement, and Gallant’s moves allow settlers to return to the entire area, which is located in the northern West Bank between the Palestinian cities of Nablus and Jenin.

Announcing the move, Gallant vowed to do what he could to continue expanding West Bank settlements. “Just as I have done in every position I’ve held in government, I will continue to foster the settlement of Judea and Samaria,” he said, using the biblical name for the West Bank.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday said he wanted to work with Congress on legislation to punish the International Criminal Court (ICC) for seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

Blinken was asked by Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing if he would support legislation to counter “the ICC sticking its nose in the business of countries that have an independent, legitimate democratic judicial system.”

Blinken replied, “Given the events of yesterday, I think we have to look at the appropriate steps to take to deal with again, what is a profoundly wrongheaded decision.”

The ICC was previously sanctioned by the US under the Trump administration for its plans to investigate alleged US war crimes in Afghanistan. The Biden administration reversed the sanctions, but the US pressure worked to get the court to announce the focus of its Afghanistan investigation would be on the Taliban and ISIS-K.

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A year after military contractors were caught dramatically overcharging the Pentagon, a bipartisan group of lawmakers who’ve been showered with campaign donations from the military industry is pushing a bill to make it even easier for those companies to rip off the Defense Department, according to our review of the bill.

After receiving more than $3.8 million in 2024 campaign donations from political action committees and individuals associated with the military industry, members of the House committee overseeing Pentagon spending just inserted two provisions into an upcoming bill that would exempt many more private products and services from competitive pricing guidelines and provide contractors far more leeway in what they can charge the Defense Department.

Last year’s Pentagon spending bill totaled nearly $884 billion. Over the past decade, more than half of that budget has gone to military contractors, according to an analysis from the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a nonprofit think tank. Many of the top military contractors — including Boeing, RTX Corporation, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman — have seen sizable stock-value increases since the war in Gaza began in October 2023 while shooting down shareholder efforts at increased transparency.

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Authored by Paulo Figueiredo via The Epoch Times,

The notion of censoring political opponents is as old as civilization itself. Throughout history, countless governments have employed this tactic to silence dissent and maintain their grip on power. From ancient Rome to modern-day dictatorships, the suppression of free speech has been a hallmark of authoritarian rule. Even today, censorship remains a pervasive force in countries such as China, where the Great Firewall restricts access to information; North Korea, where the state maintains an iron grip on all forms of media; and Russia, where journalists and activists face severe consequences for speaking out against the government.

However, in the West, the Enlightenment ideas championed by British thinkers like John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and Thomas Paine paved the way for a radical departure from this oppressive tradition. Their writings, which emphasized the importance of individual liberty and the free exchange of ideas, inspired the groundbreaking “American experiment.” The adoption of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which unequivocally protects freedom of speech, marked a turning point in human history. This bold move proved successful, as greater freedom of expression fostered innovation, enhanced legal security, improved government accountability, and ultimately led to increased prosperity.

The Western world took notice and followed suit, giving rise to the so-called “Free World.” In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted, enshrining the right to freedom of expression for all. While this development was not without its challenges—as it allowed for the dissemination of harmful and malicious ideologies like Nazism and communism—the consensus remained that the spread of bad ideas posed a lesser threat than the dangers of censorship. As the famous saying goes, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

However, this trend is now reversing at an alarming rate. In a recent hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rumble CEO Chris Pavlovski warned of an escalating trend of censorship in countries once considered bastions of free speech. He cited examples such as France, where the government has cracked down on so-called “hate speech,” and Germany, where social media companies face hefty fines for failing to remove “illegal content” within 24 hours. Australia, Canada, and New Zealand have also introduced controversial laws that could stifle free expression.

But perhaps the most egregious example of this troubling trend is Brazil. According to Elon Musk, no country where X (formerly Twitter) operates experiences a worse state of censorship than Brazil, a nation until recently regarded as the largest liberal democracy in the Southern Hemisphere. Since 2019, the powerful Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, now infamous, has been conducting his investigation dubbed the “Fake News Probe.” This probe has targeted hundreds of individuals, most recently including Elon Musk himself, for allegedly spreading “disinformation.”

The consequences of this investigation have been severe. Numerous people, including journalists like me, have had their social media accounts blocked, passports revoked, and financial assets frozen.

Others have faced even harsher fates, including imprisonment—all under the guise of “combating disinformation” and “protecting democracy.”

Glenn Greenwald, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and co-founder of The Intercept, has been one of the most vocal critics of this crackdown. In a recent article, he wrote, “The level of repression and censorship in Brazil is staggering. It’s a country that has really become a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked power and the erosion of civil liberties.”

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A video published on social media appears to show an Israeli soldier standing in the ruins of a mosque in Gaza, throwing pages of the Quran into a fire. 

According to the Israeli broadcaster Kan, the soldier posted the footage on his Instagram account. The incident was condemned by Israeli military police, who said they were investigating.

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The family of Ibrahim Hamed, one of the longest-serving Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, recently received shocking news. Their son, 59, was beaten so brutally by Israeli guards that his whole body was covered in bruises. 

The details were provided by a freed prisoner, Adeeb al-Samoudi, who had witnessed the beating in the notorious Gilboa prison.

This is not the first report of Israeli abuse and harassment against prominent prisoners to emerge in the past several months. Veteran prisoners like Nael Barghouti and Marwan Barghouti, who is at the head of Hamas's list of any potential prisoner exchange deal, have been subjected to physical abuse, humiliation and isolation.

Samoudi, from Jenin, was released last Thursday and transferred to hospital, suffering from the effects of torture and starvation.

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Rents Are Plunging In These Major U.S. Cities

by Tyler Durden
Friday, May 24, 2024 - 07:40 PM

As everybody knows, during the early phase of the pandemic, both single-family and multifamily rental prices surged, fueled by the shift to remote work and changing migration trends - not the least of which was getting the hell out of the city by any means necessary...

But, as CNBC/NBC now notes, the dynamics affecting rental prices have since shifted.

Multifamily rents in April dropped by 0.8% compared to the same month last year, according to Apartment List data. This decline was triggered by a significant influx of new units hitting the market, with additional developments expected.

Despite this downturn, apartment rents experienced a marginal increase of 0.5% for the third consecutive month. This growth is modest, especially considering that rents typically start to climb in the spring.

This year's increase is not only smaller than usual but also less than the growth observed in the previous month, bringing the national median rent in April to $1,396.

A report by Apartment List said: "This is typically the time of year when rent growth is accelerating heading into the busy moving season, so the fact that growth stalled this month could be a sign that the market is headed for another slow summer."

In fact, the report says that apartment vacancies have reached a peak not seen since August 2020, climbing to 6.7% as of March. While the issuance of new multifamily building permits is decelerating, the volume of units currently under construction remains near an all-time high, and last year witnessed the highest number of new apartments entering the market in more than three decades.

On the other hand, single-family rents have exhibited more resilience, showing a 3.4% increase in March year-over-year, as reported by CoreLogic. However, this growth rate is gradually decreasing as build-for-rent companies continue to add more supply to the market.

According to the National Association of Home Builders' analysis of Census data, construction began on approximately 18,000 single-family homes designed for rent in the first quarter, up 20% from the first quarter of 2023.

Over the past year, 80,000 such homes have started construction, marking a nearly 16% increase from the previous year.

This robustness in single-family rents suggests that many potential homebuyers, deterred by rising mortgage rates—now back over 7%—and climbing home prices, are opting to rent houses instead.

For the first time in 14 years, single-family attached homes, such as townhomes, have experienced a year-over-year rent decrease, highlighting a shift in the rental market dynamics

  • In the nation's 20 largest cities, Seattle reported the highest annual increase in single-family rents at 6.3%, followed by New York at 5.3% and Boston at 5.2%.
  • On the decline were Austin, Texas with a 3.5% decrease, Miami with a 3.2% drop, and New Orleans, falling 1.4%
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by Tyler Durden
Friday, May 24, 2024 - 09:00 PM

A preliminary report produced by Iran's military has found no evidence of criminal activity or foreign interference in last Sunday's helicopter crash that killed the late President Ebrahim Raisi and seven others, according to state media.

The report was produced by the general staff of the armed forces, and it states Raisi's helicopter "caught fire after hitting an elevated area" and found no traces of "bullet holes" on the helicopter among the wreckage.

Rescue teams combing the mountains, via AJ/WANA

The aircraft had been flying on a "pre-planned route and did not leave the designated flight path" before the crash into the side of a mountain, official IRNA news agency reports.

"No suspicious content was observed during the communications between the watch tower and the flight crew," the findings concluded. The final radio communications between the presidential helicopter and two others flying nearby occurred one-and-half minutes before the crash.

The "complexity of the area, fog and low temperature" had also hindered the search and rescue efforts, which took hours. The site had been located with the help of an advanced drone sent by Turkey's military which has thermal imaging capabilities.

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After announcing the general election to his Cabinet, Rishi Sunak’s ministers banged the table with pretend approval as he walked out of the room. The feeling most had was of stunned disbelief, but worse was to come. They were all invited to stay in the room and watch the Prime Minister on a large TV as he popped outside No 10 to announce the election. Blood drained from ministerial faces as Sunak’s suit steadily soaked up the rain and his words were almost drowned out by nearby Labour campaign music. “We all had to pretend we weren’t seeing what we all saw,” says one present. “It was a shambles.”

Sunak had gathered a few Cabinet members in advance to break the news. He told them he had already been to see the King to seek the dissolution of Parliament (traditionally, this part is done last), so he was presenting a fait accompli. This closed down discussion: it would be pointless trying to talk him out of it. 

Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, still told him that this was the wrong time for an election. David Cameron said it was “bold” which, as every Yes Minister fan knows, is Westminster-speak for “madness”.

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Authored by Chase Smith via The Epoch Times 

Following her announcement that she would be voting for former President Donald Trump after challenging him in the Republican primaries this year, President Trump said he was sure that former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley would be joining his team in some capacity.

(Left) Former President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., on March 5, 2024. (Right) Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign rally in Portland, Maine, on March 3, 2024. (Chandan Khanna, Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

Ms. Haley was previously the United Nations ambassador under President Trump’s first administration. She noted in her first remarks since dropping out of the race on May 22 that she would be supporting her former boss and opponent while calling President Joe Biden’s presidency a “catastrophe.”

In a revealing interview with News 12 New York after a campaign rally in the Bronx, New York, President Trump responded to Ms. Haley’s recent public endorsement of him following her exit from the presidential race.

When asked about the possibility of Ms. Haley being a part of his team or even his ticket, Trump responded positively. “Well, I think she’s going to be on our team because we have a lot of the same ideas, the same thoughts,” President Trump stated. “I appreciated what she said. You know, we had a nasty campaign, it was pretty nasty, but she’s a very capable person and I’m sure she’s going to be on our team in some form absolutely.”

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by Anna Fleck

May 23, 2024

More than 11 million children were estimated to be living in poverty in 2021, according to U.S. Census Bureau data published by the Children’s Defense Fund. That equates to around one in seven children in the U.S., or 15.3 percent. It’s a high toll, and one even higher than the adult population, which was 10.5 percent for 19-64 year olds that year and 10.3 percent for adults aged 65+. According to an analysis by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, this difference is due to factors such as the “cost of caregiving and its responsibilities, transitions to a single parenthood household, unemployment of parents, and disabilities of family members.”

As this chart shows, poverty levels are disproportionately higher among non-White populations. American Indian/Alaska Native children were particularly overrepresented, with 29.1 percent of this group living in poverty in 2021, followed closely behind by Black children at 27.1 percent, versus a comparatively low 8.8 percent of white children. In terms of absolute numbers, Hispanic children were the biggest group, with 4,168,000 registered as poor in 2021, according to the source, or 37.4 percent of all children who were in poverty.

Other patterns in the data highlighted by the Childrens’ Defense Foundation include the regional divide, with the South showing a child poverty prevalence of nearly 20 percent, or one in five children. This drops to below 15 percent in the Northeast, Midwest and West (closer to one in seven). Perhaps the starkest figure though, is for children living in a single female-headed household, where nearly four in ten (37.1 percent) were living in poverty in 2021.




Infographic: 1 in 7 Children Live in Poverty in the U.S. | Statista

Claire's Observations:  I knew the numbers were bad, but I had no idea that they were quite THIS bad!!!

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by Tyler Durden

Friday, May 24, 2024 - 10:20 PM

The Ukrainians aren't waiting for 'permission' from the US despite the Biden administration's official prohibition on using American-supplied weaponry to strike inside Russian territory. But perhaps Kiev's argument is that Crimea is not 'Russian territory'...

"Ukraine hit a Russian military complex in Crimea with U.S.-provided long-range missiles Thursday night, the latest in a mounting series of strikes aimed at slowing the Russian war machine," The Wall Street Journal reports Friday.

MAXAR technologies/Reuters satellite image showing a destroyed aircraft  Crimea last week.

The WSJ continues, "The missile strike hit a communications center of Russian air-defense forces in the city of Alushta, according to a Ukrainian defense official." It added: "Crimean social-media channels reported several explosions in the coastal city, with one video showing a large blast, but the extent of the damage couldn’t immediately be established."

Long-range ATACMS (or Army Tactical Missile System), were first transferred 'secretly' by Washington to Ukraine's military earlier this year, and only disclosed publicly just weeks ago. In late April, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said a "significant number" of the ATACMS have been sent to Ukraine but did not specify how many. They can hit targets up to 190 miles away - and earlier in the war were withheld reportedly on White House concerns that they would be used to attack deep within Russian territory.

The UK and France have also of late provided longer-range systems, including cruise missiles that can be launched from aircraft. The WSJ underscores these new weapons "have significantly boosted the range, value and number of the deep-lying targets that Ukraine can attack."

But the reality is that with each new attack on Russia, its forces appear to be hitting back harder with 'punishing' strikes on Kharkiv and as far south as the large port city of Odessa

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by Tyler Durden

While the CIA is strictly prohibited from spying on or running clandestine operations against American citizens on US soil, a bombshell new "Twitter Files" report reveals that a member of the Board of Trustees of InQtel - the CIA's mission-driving venture capital firm, along with "former" intelligence community (IC) and CIA analysts, were involved in a massive effort in 2021-2022 to take over Twitter's content management system, as Michael Shellenberger, Matt Taibbi and Alex Gutentag report over at Shellenberger's Public (subscribers can check out the extensive 6,800 word report here).

According to "thousands of pages of Twitter Files and documents," these efforts were part of a broader strategy to manage how information is disseminated and consumed on social media under the guise of combating 'misinformation' and foreign propaganda efforts - as this complex of government-linked individuals and organizations has gone to great lengths to suggest that narrative control is a national security issue.

According to the report, the effort also involved;

  • a long-time IC contractor and senior Department of Defense R&D official who spent years developing technologies to detect whistleblowers (“insider threats”) like Edward Snowden and Wikileaks’ leakers;
  • the proposed head of the DHS’ aborted Disinformation Governance Board, Nina Jankowicz, who aided US military and NATO “hybrid war” operations in Europe;
  • Jim Baker, who, as FBI General Counsel, helped start the Russiagate hoax, and, as Twitter’s Deputy General Counsel, urged Twitter executives to censor The New York Post story about Hunter Biden,
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Speculative building, measured by started but unsold housing inventory, is at the highest level since May of 2008. To unload these units, builders will have to offer steep discounts.

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Fast Food is already so expensive, many companies are losing massive amounts of money, but in NYC there's a new threat to these businesses...

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Walmart’s impact on the United States is undeniable. From its humble beginnings as a small-town discount store to its current status as a global retail behemoth, the company has revolutionized how people shop, businesses operate, and communities experience retail.

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by Tyler Durden


It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that DARPA is hurriedly throwing in with the ongoing AI trend...

In fact, Bloomberg reported this week that the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking for an additional $70 million to help further its "quest to develop an ultra-efficient chip for artificial intelligence technology".

It is backing a company called EnCharge AI Inc., which seeks to build chips specifically suited for AI.

The company is pioneering in-memory computing—a technology mainly theoretical until recently that could significantly reduce the energy consumption of AI processing chips. It started from work conducted at Princeton. 

CEO Naveen Verma, who is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Princeton, noted that EnCharge was launched with substantial support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the DOD.

The report says that this technology has the potential to perform data processing directly where it is stored, thereby conserving energy by eliminating the need to move data across different components.

EnCharge is not alone in its research; major firms like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Intel Corp., and Samsung Electronics Co. are also exploring similar advancements.

Currently, the U.S. government, emphasizing a shift towards boosting American manufacturing, has shown significant interest in such innovations, providing over $23 million in funding to EnCharge, with additional private investment nearing double that amount from entities including Raytheon Technologies’ venture arm.

This is part of a broader initiative backing startups and enhancing the domestic production capabilities.

In addition to the technology's appeal to private sector firms, the U.S. government sees crucial applications in defense, particularly for running AI-driven military applications in power-constrained environments such as remote areas and aircraft, Verma explained.

EnCharge is preparing for its next investment round and is in pursuit of strategic investors, although Verma did not disclose specifics about the funding discussions or the company’s valuation.

The startup has already started deploying its chips, which are tailored not for training AI models like those of OpenAI or Anthropic, but for applications utilizing these models for predictive tasks.

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 by Tyler Durden

Friday, May 24, 2024 - 06:00 PM

Authored by Jana Pruet via The Epoch Times,

New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella announced on Thursday that Steven Kramer had been indicted on more than two dozen charges for allegedly sending artificial intelligence-generated robocalls mimicking President Joe Biden’s voice to voters ahead of the New Hampshire presidential primary earlier this year.

“New Hampshire remains committed to ensuring that our elections remain free from unlawful interference, and our investigation into this matter remains ongoing,” Mr. Formella said.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed a $6 million fine for Mr. Kramer, 54, a Louisiana-based political consultant who is indicted on 13 counts of felony voter suppression and 13 counts of misdemeanor impersonation of a candidate.

“The Federal Communications Commission will separately be announcing an enforcement action against Mr. Kramer based on violations of federal law,” the attorney general continued. “I am pleased to see that our federal partners are similarly committed to protecting consumers and voters from harmful robocalls and voter suppression. I hope that our respective enforcement actions send a strong deterrent signal to anyone who might consider interfering with elections, whether through the use of artificial intelligence or otherwise.”

Mr. Kramer has admitted to orchestrating the AI-generated voice similar to the president’s and using the phrase ‘What a bunch of malarkey’ in the call that was sent to thousands of voters.

The voice also falsely suggested that voting in the primary would preclude voters from casting ballots in the general election in November.

Voters who received the robocall message were allegedly asked to “save [their] vote for the November election.” The message also stated, “[y]our vote makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday,” according to the attorney general’s office.

“We will act swiftly and decisively to ensure that bad actors cannot use the telecommunications networks to facilitate the misuse of generative AI technology to interfere with elections, defraud consumers, or compromise sensitive data,” Loyann Egal, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau chief, said in a statement.

The charges were filed across four counties, including Rockingham, Belknap, Grafton, and Merrimack, based on the residence of the thirteen identified voters who received the robocalls.

Telecom Company Also Faces Fine

In a separate announcement, the FCC proposed a $2 million fine in a “first-of-its-kind enforcement action” against Lingo Telecom, the company accused of transmitting the robocalls, for violating federal caller identification authentication rules.

“Two days before the New Hampshire 2024 presidential primary election, illegally spoofed and malicious robocalls carried a deepfake audio recording of President Biden’s cloned voice telling prospective voters not to vote in the upcoming primary,” the FCC said on Thursday. “The inaccurate and misleading calls also transmitted the caller ID number of an unknowing local political operative.

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Janet Yellen, the US treasury secretary, has urged the EU to intervene urgently to dampen the growing export levels of Chinese cut-price green technology including solar panels and wind turbines, pushing European leaders to move to a full-scale trade war.

At the same time she urged German bank executives on Tuesday to step up efforts to comply with sanctions against Russia and shut down efforts to circumvent them to avoid potential penalties themselves that could see the US cut them off from dollar access.

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