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Russian missiles and drones had a 90% failure rate in May and that cost the Kremlin $1.7 billion, Ukraine says

13 hours 53 min ago
Mikoyan MiG-31K fighter jets with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles fly over Moscow's Red Square during the Victory Day military parade.
  • Around 90% of Russia's drones and missiles fired in May were destroyed, the Kyiv Post reported.
  • The Ukrainian outlet estimated that the munitions cost the Kremlin around $1.7 billion.
  • The bulk of the expenses came from destroyed Kh-55 missiles, which cost around $1.48 billion.

Almost 90% of Russia's missiles and drones were shot down in Ukraine in May, according to a Ukrainian analysis.

The Kremlin launched at least 563 missiles and Iranian-manufactured kamikaze drones in Ukraine that month, and 533 of them were neutralized, wrote Pete Shmigel, an Australian writer who reports for the Kyiv Post.

His day-by-day analysis, based on data from Ukraine's military, found that the munitions likely cost Russia over $1.7 billion in May alone.

The bulk of Russia's munitions expenses stemmed from destroyed Kh-101 and Kh-555 cruise missiles, costing $1.48 billion, the Kyiv Post reported. 

Moscow deployed 114 of these missiles, but 106 of them were destroyed, the outlet wrote. They're typically fired from aircraft at long range.

The Kyiv Post also wrote that Ukraine used 401 Shahed-136 drones costing around $20,000 each, and that 362 were destroyed by Ukrainian air defenses.

All seven Kinzhal missiles, which Russia previously boasted were unstoppable, fired by the Kremlin's forces in May were shot down, the Kyiv Post wrote. 

May 29 saw the most drones and missiles deployed in a single day, with 35 Iranian Shaheds and 51 missiles being deployed by Russia. Around 89.5% of them were shot down, per the Kyiv Post.

That failure rate eclipses earlier estimates from the US, which said in 2022 that as much as 60% of Russia's missiles never reached their targets.

But in those days, Ukraine didn't have the NATO-provided anti-air defenses it now possesses. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in November that American NASAMS air defense systems sent to Ukraine had a 100% success rate of intercepting Russian missiles. 

Lieutenant General Serhii Naiev, Commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, assessed that its mixture of European and American-made air defense systems has an efficiency of at least 80% or higher, according to a Tuesday CNN report.

Meanwhile, Ukraine said on Sunday that its long-range Storm Shadow missiles, supplied by the UK in May, have hit 100% of their targets.

Earlier this month, a Russian missile attack near Kyiv struck a Patriot air defense system, but US officials said the damage caused wasn't enough to require repairs, and that the system's radar and missile components were still operational. 

Press departments for the Ukrainian and Russian defense ministries did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment sent outside regular business hours.

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The FBI is investigating the fall of the Carnival cruise passenger who is missing after going overboard on his first cruise: report

14 hours 3 sec ago
A close-up of the Carnival Magic cruise ship docked in Marseille. Carnival Cruise Lines ships in Marseille.
  • The FBI is investigating the fall of a Carnival cruise passenger who fell overboard on his first cruise, per Fox News Digital.
  • 35-year-old Ronnie Lee Peale Jr. was returning to Virginia from the Bahamas at the time of the incident on Monday.
  • The United States Coast Guard said late on Wednesday that it has suspended search efforts for Peale.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the fall of a Carnival cruise passenger who fell overboard on his first cruise, Fox News Digital reported on Wednesday.

The passenger, 35-year-old Ronnie Lee Peale Jr., was on a Carnival cruise ship returning to Virginia from the Bahamas at the time of the incident.

He was reported missing by his fiancée late Monday afternoon, the cruise ship operator told Insider's Natalie Musumeci and Hannah Towey on Tuesday.

It was his first-ever cruise, his fiancée Jennilyn Michelle Blosser told WTKR.


Insider could not reach the FBI via phone outside regular business hours. A spokesperson for the federal agency's Norfolk field office told Fox the FBI is the lead investigating agency for the incident.

"The FBI typically has jurisdiction to investigate incidents on the high seas and works closely with our partners in law enforcement and in the cruising industry to collect the evidence and facts of cases," the spokesperson told the media outlet.

The United States Coast Guard said late on Wednesday that it has suspended search efforts for Peale.

"The decision to suspend the active search efforts pending further development is never one we take lightly. We offer our most sincere condolences to Mr. Peale's family and friends," the US Coast Guard said in a statement.



Peale Jr. "loved the cruise life," Blosser told WTKR. "Being able to drink, gamble, and socialize put him in his happy place."

Carnival Cruise said in a statement to Insider on Tuesday that a review of close-circuit security video footage showed Peale Jr. "leaned over the railing of his stateroom balcony and dropped into the water at approximately 4:10 am early Monday morning."

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A North Carolina couple renovated a crumbling 118-year-old manor with an attached chapel in 11 weeks. Finishing touches were being made on the day of their wedding — see how they did it.

14 hours 40 min ago
The entrance to the chapel.
  • Joe and Becky Davis spent 11 weeks turning a crumbling manor and chapel into their dream wedding venue.
  • The North Carolina property used to be Joe's childhood home but had been left vacant when his parents moved to Florida.
  • The couple plans to lease it as a wedding venue for others to use, with bookings starting in 2024.
What happens when your dream wedding venue is a crumbling chapel next to your childhood home? Joe and Becky Davis did the unthinkable and renovated it in 11 weeks — in time for their wedding.Becky and Joe Davis on their wedding day, standing outside the entrance to the chapel.

Joe grew up in the house with the adjoining chapel at 1110 N Market Street in Washington, North Carolina.

"My parents bought it in the '80s, so I spent my whole childhood there until I was a teenager, and then went off to school," Joe told Insider. After graduating college, he started a high school basketball scouting company before going into real estate management.

This ultimately led him to take over his childhood home from his parents in 2018, which had been empty ever since his parents relocated to Florida in 2013.

Joe's parents bought the place in 1988 for around $80,000, Becky told Insider. Insider could not independently verify the 35-year-old record. 

"It was never in the best condition in the world, but by the time I got it, it was in pretty bad shape," Joe said. "The front porch was falling down and there was literally rot everywhere."

While Joe worked on and off on the property, it wasn't until he proposed to Becky in January 2022 that he started ramping up the restoration efforts.The manor and the adjoining chapel.

Joe always had the intention of turning the property into an event space, and this new development in his personal life gave him the idea to use it as a wedding venue.

"I thought it'd be the perfect place for us to get married," Joe said.

The only problem was that the house and the chapel were in bad shape — but Joe was insistent that the wedding take place in April that same year.

"Joe actually proposed to me the day before his birthday," Becky said. "And my birthday is on April 14 — he wanted to have this wedding as part of my birthday present, so we had to get married before my birthday. It was really sweet."

Joe says that they managed to complete at least a year's worth of renovation in under 11 weeks.A before photo of the crumbling manor.

Joe proposed to Becky on January 23, 2022, and they tied the knot on April 9, 2022, Becky said.

But the renovation was difficult: Since the property had been vacant for five years, everything was falling apart, Joe said.

A layer of dust and grime had settled on the walls and floor, and even the original wooden boards on the porch were rotting. Due to the building's age, a lot of the walls were cracked as well, he said.

"We renovated the bathroom, added a new HVAC system, and even put in new plumbing and electrical wiring," Joe added. "It's hard because we're bringing an old home into the 21st century. And there are many different little things we needed to consider, like replacing columns and spindles on the porch."

The couple had between 12 to 15 workmen on site every day, trying to get everything ready for the big day.A before image of the crumbling manor.

The couple helped out wherever they could, and it was Joe's job to be the general contractor overseeing the entire project and making sure timelines were met.

"No one ever wants to tear down an old house, but it probably would've made a lot more financial sense to tear it down and build something new than to restore it," Joe said.

Becky, who now works with Joe in property management, had her hands full planning the wedding.

Although the scale of the project was daunting, it wasn't the couple's first time overseeing a major renovation.

Even the house they live in now — which is a 30-minute drive away in Greenville, North Carolina — was a renovation project that they were involved in, Joe said.

"I'm a glutton for punishment, so I kind of did it again. I don't usually learn from the first time or the second time," he added.

The hardest part of the entire project was finding workers and keeping everyone motivated enough to finish the project on time, Joe said.The interiors of the manor during the renovation.

"As far as the house management goes, the beginning of 2021 was just so hard because all the workers could pretty much charge whatever they wanted," Joe said. "It was a miracle to be able to have that many people help get the house ready."

Apart from fixing up the manor, the chapel was also in need of serious restoration.

Joe's father had converted the chapel into an office space during his time, and turned the upstairs space into an apartment that he rented out, Joe said.

"He made a whole lot more work for me because I had to tear all that stuff he built down before I could return the chapel back to what it used to be," he added.

Despite the cost, Joe was determined to breathe new life into his childhood home because it held sentimental value for him and his family.The exterior of the renovated manor.

Joe's appreciation for the property grew after he got into real estate.

"I thought it was a good opportunity even though I don't know if it'll ever be worth as much as I've invested in it," Joe said. "Growing up there motivated me to really want to fix it back up."

Joe estimates that he spent about under a million on the whole project, considering the scale of the renovation, the tight timeline, and the amount of manpower he had.

The renovated property, which the couple named Mizpah Manor and Chapel, dates back to the early 1900s, Becky said.The exterior of the chapel.

The manor was originally constructed in 1906 by a local judge, but became a residence for the sisters of the St. Agnes Covenant Immaculate Heart Community sometime in the '30s, after a transfer of hands, she said.

"What we heard is the nuns would have their mass in the house where the kitchen actually is now," Joe said.

Years later in 1929, the chapel was built with a donation from a devout follower as a dying wish, Joe said: "A lady from New York City, instead of having a big elaborate funeral, she gave that money to the nuns to start a missions chapel."

The couple ended up finishing the renovations on the morning of their wedding.Becky and Joe Davis on their wedding day, standing outside the entrance to the chapel.

"We had our full staff till about noon that day, and then I went upstairs, got ready, walked across from the house to the chapel, and got married," Joe said. 

It was a mad rush to get everything completed and it was a nerve-wracking experience because they weren't even able to get power to the property until the day before their nuptials, Joe said.

"We didn't think we were going to get power, so I was trying to convince Becky that it'll be okay and that it'll be just like a wedding in the old days," Joe said.

Thankfully, everything went off without a hitch, he added.

The couple exchanged their vows in the chapel and held a reception on the front lawn after. There were about 100 guests in attendance.

The day of their wedding was also the first time in years that Joe's entire family had gathered together in the same place.The empty chapel.

"Since it's such a large family, it's kind of hard to get everybody in one place and time, so it was really nice to have everybody there," Becky said.

The completed chapel comes with space to seat 100 guests, per a website dedicated to the property.

Although the major renovations are completed, the manor still needs some additional work and furnishing.One of the common rooms in the manor. It is empty save for a fireplace and a grand piano.

The couple is planning to rent out their Greenville home to students in the fall, so they can move into the manor to finish up the rest of the space, Joe said.

"We're planning to live there just because we think it'll be better to be in the space since it's a blank canvas right now. We're trying to get all the furniture together," Joe said.

Design-wise, the couple hope to be able to stay true to the historical character of the home while giving it a modern spin.

"I want it to have its own flare as well, and it is going to be our home for a while, so we'll need to find that balance of decorating for a wedding venue but also for a home and for a place where people come and feel comfortable," Becky said.

The two of them are planning to lease the space out as a wedding venue starting in 2024.The unfinished kitchen.

"We just started showing the house and the chapel to potential brides a couple of months ago, so our priority is really to get everything furnished before we start booking," Joe said.

The wedding package offered by the venue includes an on-site venue coordinator, access to the bridal and groom suites in the manor, as well as on-site parking for guests, per the website dedicated to the venue.

This will be the couple's first time running a wedding venue, but they're hopeful that other couples will enjoy the space as much as they did.The manor comes with five bedrooms, five full bathrooms, and three half-baths.

"We don't have any background in the wedding industry, but I don't think that we've seen any other property that has a chapel and an old Victorian mansion on it, so we're hoping that'll be a draw for others," Joe said.

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The Kremlin wants everyone to chill out after firebrand nationalists and military honchos called for martial law in response to drone attacks on Moscow

15 hours 34 min ago
Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Russian republic of Chechnya.
  • Russian firebrand leaders called for martial law after drone attacks reportedly struck Moscow.
  • But the Kremlin said it hasn't even discussed such a measure, and has no plans to do so.
  • Imposing martial law is a "prerogative of the highest federal power," a spokesperson reminded the press.

Russia is dismissing calls to impose martial law after a series of drone attacks reportedly struck Moscow this week.

The Kremlin hasn't even discussed imposing such measures after the attack, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for Russian leader Vladimir Putin's office, told state news agency RIA Novosti.

"This is entirely the prerogative of the highest federal power, no decisions have been made on that account, and no discussions are being held on this matter," Peskov said.

He was responding to comments by Chechen warlord and Putin ally Ramzan Kadyrov, who advocated for martial law across Russia in a Telegram post on Tuesday.

Kadyrov, known for issuing blistering, aggressive statements, decried Kyiv's leadership as "Nazis" and "Satanists," blaming them for the drone attacks. 

He said it was "necessary" to declare martial law in Russia, and wanted to muster the entire country's war resources to "sweep away this terrorist cell at once."

Putin and the Kremlin have similarly said Ukraine was responsible for the drone attacks, though Kyiv has denied involvement.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the vocal leader of the Russian paramilitary force Wagner Group, told Siberian journalists on Wednesday that he agreed with Kadyrov.

"The country must be put on martial law," Prigozhin said in a visit to Novosibirsk, per Sibkray News. He also called for a second mobilization in Russia to bolster Moscow's forces in Ukraine.

Their calls for martial law also come as pro-Ukraine militias in Russia claimed to be raiding checkpoints and harassing the Kremlin's troops in Belgorod, the region closest to the border with Ukraine. The two groups, the Freedom of Russia Legion and Russian Volunteer Corps, have been listed as terrorist organizations by Moscow.

On Tuesday, Russia's defense ministry said at least eight drone attacks had been launched at Moscow, resulting in minor damage to some residential neighborhoods. One of Putin's main residences, situated in Novo-Ogaryovo, was near the crash site of one of the drones, per information released by Russia.

In his Telegram post, Kadyrov swore revenge on Ukraine for the incursions and drone attacks, but said he "won't reveal the details" of what he has planned.

The US said on Tuesday that it does not support attacks inside of Russia. "We have been focused on providing Ukraine with the equipment and training they need to retake their own sovereign territory," said a State Department spokesperson.

Representatives for the Russian government did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment sent outside regular business hours.

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JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon is eyeing another career after banking — he's considering getting into politics next

Wed, 05/31/2023 - 11:32pm
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said politics has crossed his mind.
  • JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon told Bloomberg TV he has considered going into politics.
  • Billionaire investor Bill Ackman urged Dimon to run for president in a tweet and gave him a glowing testimony.
  • But Dimon said last week that he intends to run JPMorgan for another three-and-a-half years.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has hinted that he may be getting into politics after retiring from his banking career.

"Obviously, it's crossed my mind because people mention things to you and stuff like that," 67-year-old Dimon told Bloomberg TV on Wednesday in response to a question about whether he has ever considered public office or would ever accept a cabinet position. 

"I love my country, and maybe one day I'll serve my country in one capacity or another," he said.

Should Dimon consider public office after he retires, he already has a staunch supporter in billionaire investor Bill Ackman, who on Wednesday urged the bank CEO to run for US President in a lengthy Wednesday tweet. 

Ackman also endorsed Dimon with a glowing testimony.

"We need an exemplary business, financial, and global leader to manage through what is likely to be a critically important decade for our country in determining our destiny. Jamie Dimon is that leader," the CEO of hedge fund Pershing Square tweeted.

—Bill Ackman (@BillAckman) May 31, 2023


But Dimon doesn't appear to be planning for retirement in the immediate future. He told Bloomberg TV that he still loves running the bank.

Just last Monday, he said at JPMorgan's investor day that he plans to stay at the bank for another three-and-a-half years, Reuters reported. 

"I'm not going to change, I'm not going to play golf, I love my country, my company, my family," said Dimon per the news agency. "I can't do this forever, I know that, but my intensity is the same. When I don't have this kind of intensity, I should leave."

Dimon has been at the helm of JPMorgan since 2006 and is one of the longest-serving bank CEOs in the US.

JPMorgan and Ackman did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment sent outside regular business hours.

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Russia's own economic figures show a steep drop in industrial output amid a record labor shortage

Wed, 05/31/2023 - 11:02pm
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • Russian industrial production fell 5% in April from the prior month, according to the economy ministry.
  • That comes amid a historic labor shortage, and the unemployment rate hit a record low of 3.3%.
  • Russia's war on Ukraine has set off a mass exodus of workers and the mobilization of 300,000 troops.

Official Russian statistics released on Wednesday highlight constrained economic performance, as industrial production fell sharply.

Some analysts have previously warned against putting much faith in the Kremlin's data, which is often used to portray Russian economy in a more positive light.

But the economy ministry said industrial output dropped 5% in April from the prior month, according to Reuters. That's despite state spending and demand for military production. 

The drop coincides with a historic labor shortage that's weighing on factories. According to a central bank survey last month, Russia's economy is facing a record worker shortage amid losses in its war on Ukraine and a mass exodus.

About 1 million people have left Russia, whether to avoid a mobilization decree from October or to find better economic opportunities.

On Wednesday, the economy ministry backed up the earlier findings, saying Russia's unemployment rate dropped to a record low of 3.3%.

Meanwhile, retail sales in April dipped 0.1% from the prior month, signaling weakness in consumer demand. Monthly GDP growth also slowed to 0.2% in April after accounting for seasonal adjustments.

First-quarter corporate profits fell 22.3% year over year, while capital investments dropped to 0.7% from last year's 13.8%.

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Scientists discovered a smiling, paragliding gecko that flies from tree to tree in India

Wed, 05/31/2023 - 11:00pm
The paragliding geckos use flaps of skin along their bodies to glide from tree to tree.
  • Scientists discovered a new species of paragliding gecko in India.
  • The smiling reptiles use skin flaps along their body to fly from tree to tree.
  • The discovery highlights a lack of documentation of the region's biodiversity, researchers said.

Scientists have discovered a new species of paragliding geckos in India, according to a May study published in Nature, highlighting the lack of comprehensive documentation of the region's biodiversity. 

The wide-eyed, smiling reptiles were discovered while researchers were surveying gecko populations in northeastern India. 

The creature's scientific name is Gekko mizoramensis, but scientists have dubbed the mini-lizards "parachute geckos" due to their habit of gliding from tree to tree.

The animals use flaps of skin alongside their bodies and tails to glide through the air.

Parachute geckos live across Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia, but this is the first time researchers clocked the new species in India, according to the study.

Scientists found that the geckos discovered in India are distinct from other types of parachute geckos, some of which can glide up to 200 feet. 

The Gekko mizoramensis are nocturnal and use scent simulations to protect themselves as they fly. The reptiles were most active around the onset of dusk, hunting and ambushing their prey, which includes beetles, roaches, moths, and other insects, according to the study.

Investigators captured the geckos by hand while conducting surveys in India. All the reptiles were found at heights about 150 to 360 cm above the ground.

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Dollar General investors vote to probe worker safety, after years of employee complaints

Wed, 05/31/2023 - 10:55pm
Dollar General shareholders approved a proposal for an audit of the retailer's safety policies and practices for its workers Wednesday at the company's annual meeting.
  • Dollar General's shareholders approved a proposal to audit how the retailer handles its workers' safety.
  • The vote at Dollar General's annual meeting came as employees protested in support of the audit.
  • Dollar General stores have been cited by OSHA and local authorities for safety hazards for years.

Dollar General workers who have expressed concerns about their safety for years have finally gotten the attention of company shareholders.

Shareholders have approved a proposal that asks for an audit of worker safety at Dollar General stores, according to preliminary results of a proxy vote announced at the retailer's annual meeting on Wednesday. The proposal asks for a third-party audit of how Dollar General's policies and their implementation at stores affects workers' well-being. 

Domini US Impact Equity Fund, which says on its website that it uses its investments "to create a more fair and sustainable world," presented the proposal at the annual meeting. Outside the site of the meeting in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, Dollar General workers from around the US demonstrated in support of the proposal and asked the company to do more to protect them at work.

A Dollar General spokesperson confirmed that the audit was approved according to preliminary results. "We encourage employees to share their feedback through the many Company-provided channels so that we can listen and work together to address concerns and challenges, as well as to celebrate successes," the spokesperson said.

The company's board of directors recommended that investors vote against the proposal, according to proxy documents. It called a third-party audit proposal "unnecessary" and listed various ways the company manages employee safety and well-being.

Dollar General has grown its store network over the last several years. It operates close to 20,000 stores in the US. In March, it opened its first-ever international location in Mexico. The retailer is also expanding its offerings in fresh groceries, banking services, and mobile healthcare clinics.

But employees and shoppers say that many of Dollar General's stores are understaffed and overrun with merchandise. The problem has gotten so bad at some stores that local fire marshals have forced them to close because unpacked merchandise is blocking fire exit paths. Employees have also gotten injured on the job, while others have been murdered while working at the stores, CNN reported.

OSHA has called Dollar General a "severe violator"

David Williams, an employee at a Dollar General store, said he and his colleagues at other locations go to work scared of the dangers that they will encounter there. He presented the shareholder proposal for an audit at the annual meeting on behalf of Domini.

"We're scared because we know that the leaders of Dollar General are not looking out for the safety of workers," Williams said. "The company has expanded it so fast and so recklessly that on any given day, I might have to deal with a rat infestation, a door they won't lock or someone pointing a gun at me with no security to protect me."

Safety hazards at Dollar General stores have also gotten the attention of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, which has proposed fines on Dollar General of $21 million since 2017. The company's violations are severe and frequent enough that Dollar General earned a "severe violator" designation from OSHA in March.

The proposal's passage marks a win for Dollar General workers, Mary Beth Gallagher, director of engagement at Domini Impact Investments, said in a statement.

"Dollar General has a responsibility to provide a safe working environment for its employees, and it now has clear support from its shareholders to do this," said Gallagher.

"We hope the company will act quickly to conduct an independent audit, incorporating worker and customer input, so root causes can be identified, and the process can begin to make system-wide improvements to the safety at its stores, so that workers no longer have to worry if they will come home from work safely," she added.

Do you work or shop at a Dollar General store or have a story to share? Reach out to Alex Bitter at  or via the encrypted messaging app Signal at (808) 854-4501.

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Trump was recorded talking about a classified document he kept from the White House: CNN

Wed, 05/31/2023 - 10:44pm
President Donald Trump speaks following a meeting on infrastructure at Trump Tower, August 15, 2017 in New York City.
  • Federal prosecutors have obtained audio of Trump admitting he held onto classified material after leaving office, CNN reported.
  • The audio notes that Trump held onto information regarding a potential attack on Iran.
  • A recent report said special counsel Jack Smith is nearing a decision to bring charges against Trump.

Federal prosecutors have obtained an audio recording of former President Donald Trump acknowledging he kept classified documents after his time in the White House, according to CNN.

Reporters for CNN had not listened to the recording, but the outlet cited multiple sources who said the it shows Trump knowingly kept confidential information beyond his time as president. The classified documents detail a "potential attack on Iran," per CNN's sources.

The Department of Justice's investigation into Trump's mishandling of documents publicly began in August 2022, when FBI agents raided Trump's Mar-A-Lago home in Florida to uncover a trove of documents, many of which were classified.

The former president has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and insisted he could hold onto sensitive documents from his time in office because the presidency granted him the power to "automatically" declassify the information. 

In a statement shared with Insider, a spokesperson for Trump said: "Leaks from radical partisans behind this political persecution are designed to inflame tensions and continue the media's harassment of President Trump and his supporters."

"It's just more proof that when it comes to President Trump, there are absolutely no depths to which they will not sink as they pursue their witch hunts," the spokesperson said. "The DOJ's continued interference in the presidential election is shameful and this meritless investigation should cease wasting the American taxpayer's money on dEmocrat political objectives."

One source told CNN that discussion about the classified document was part of a longer meeting that took place in July 2021 at Trump's golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. 

The meeting has been a focal point in special counsel Jack Smith's federal investigation thus far, according to the outlet, and federal investigators have already asked high-level witnesses about the Iran document in front of a federal grand jury.

Sources told the outlet that several attendees at the July meeting would not have had the necessary security clearance to be privy to discussions about the classified material.

The audio recording includes comments by Trump discussing his desire to publicly share information about the potential Iran attack, but acknowledging that he could not declassify the information at that point since he was no longer president, according to CNN's sources.

A recent Wall Street Journal report noted that Smith is nearing the end of his testimony and evidence-gathering phase into Trump's handling of classified documents and is nearing a decision on whether or not to bring criminal charges against the 45th president. 

Soon after the Wall Street Journal's report, Trump's attorneys sent US Attorney General Merrick Garland a letter requesting a meeting to discuss Smith's investigation.

Evidence indicating the former president was knowingly discussing his possession of classified documents after his presidency could escalate Trump's long list of legal troubles as he makes another bid for the presidency.

May 31, 2023: This story has been updated to include a statement from a Trump spokesman. 

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A Navy pilot had to be rescued off the coast of Key West after ejecting from an F-5 aircraft

Wed, 05/31/2023 - 10:41pm
The Navy had to rescue the pilot from the water using an MH-60S search and rescue helicopter, the station said.
  • A Navy pilot had to be rescued from Florida waters after ejecting from an F-5 aircraft.
  • Naval officials said Wednesday the pilot was part of the Fighter Squadron Composite VFC-111.
  • Local media captured video of what appeared to be the pilot walking off the rescue helicopter.

A US Navy pilot required rescue after ejecting from a plane over Florida waters this week during a training exercise.

Naval officials confirmed that a pilot assigned to Naval Air Station Key West was picked up in the waters off Key West on Wednesday morning.

The pilot was part of the elite Fighter Squadron Composite VFC-111, also known as "Sun Downers," military officials said in a Wednesday statement. 

—NAS Key West (@NASKeyWest) May 31, 2023


The aircraft, which was an F-5N plane, originally launched from Naval Air Station Key West. The pilot ejected approximately 25 miles from Boca Chica Field at about 9:20 a.m. local time on Wednesday, authorities said. 

The Navy had to rescue the pilot from the water using an MH-60S search and rescue helicopter, the station said. 

Local media station WPLG captured video of the pilot walking off the helicopter onto a local hospital's helipad after being transported to the medical site following the incident. 

Naval authorities said they would investigate the cause of the incident.

The area has been the site of at least two other aircraft mishaps in recent years, according to WPLG. 

The Coast Guard had to rescue a pilot in 2018 who also ejected from an F-5N aircraft, and that same year, two Navy aviators died in a training exercise after their jet crashed near the Naval station, according to the outlet.

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The House just passed McCarthy and Biden's debt-ceiling deal, bringing the US one step closer to avoiding a default in a matter of days

Wed, 05/31/2023 - 10:40pm
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California is pictured at the Capitol on January 7, 2023.
  • The House voted to pass Biden and McCarthy's bill to raise the debt ceiling by a vote of 314-117.
  • It came after lawmakers in both parties expressed opposition to some of the compromises in the bill.
  • The bill now heads to the Senate, which needs to act quickly before the US defaults in June.

The House of Representatives just took a major step in preventing the US from defaulting on its debt in a matter of days.

On Wednesday night, the House passed President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy's bill — the Fiscal Responsibility Act — to suspend the debt ceiling through January 1, 2025 by a vote of 314-117. It was far from an easy process to get to this point. For months, Biden and McCarthy had been at odds over the best approach to address the debt-ceiling crisis. McCarthy passed a bill in the House last month to raise the debt ceiling through March 2023 accompanied by $4.5 trillion in spending cuts, while Biden was adamant raising the debt ceiling should be a clean and bipartisan deal, without any spending cuts attached.

Biden and McCarthy's bill will cut spending by at least $1.5 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and it has provisions that include codifying the end of the student-loan payment pause and new work requirements on federal programs like SNAP.

"This agreement is good news for the American people and the American economy," Biden said in a statement following its passage. "It protects key priorities and accomplishments from the past two years, including historic investments that are creating good jobs across the country. And, it honors my commitment to safeguard Americans' health care and protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. It protects critical programs that millions of hardworking families, students, and veterans count on."

—President Biden (@POTUS) June 1, 2023


It wasn't immediately clear that the bill would pass the House. Shortly after the text was released, it gained opposition from both sides of the aisle — some Democratic lawmakers were unhappy with the spending cuts in the deal, while conservative lawmakers were hoping for bigger cuts on more federal programs. The bill now heads to the Senate, where it faces some opposition, as well.

"I have real concerns about a bill that is designed to take away food from hungry people, to make students who are struggling with debt lock in to pay more, to slow down our efforts in the climate fight and to help out wealthy tax cheats," Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told reporters on Tuesday. "The Republicans have taken hostage of our economy and our good name around the world. And Democrats are forced into having to play the role of grown-ups in the room."

However, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have already expressed support for the bill, hoping to corral members of both of their parties to vote for its passage.

"President Biden and Speaker McCarthy's agreement will protect the economy and eliminate the threat of a catastrophic default. I support this bipartisan agreement. Nobody's getting all they want—but it takes default off the table and protects key investments we've made," Schumer wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

McConnell also wrote that McCarthy "and House Republicans secured a crucial first step toward bringing Washington Democrats' reckless spending to heel. Their unity forced President Biden to do his job. And soon, it will be the Senate's turn to pass this important agreement."

Congress needs to act quickly to pass the legislation and get it to Biden's desk before the US could default as soon as June 5. 

"Senators should be prepared to move on this bill quickly once it is the Senate's turn to act," Schumer said on Wednesday. "I cannot stress enough that we have no margin—no margin—for error."

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Reports of bombshell Trump recording suggests prosecutors may have grounds to charge him under the Espionage Act

Wed, 05/31/2023 - 10:39pm
Former President Donald Trump has previously said the documents at Mar-a-Lago were declassified.
  • CNN reported Trump was captured on audio in 2021 admitting he took a classified document.
  • Federal prosecutors investigating Trump's handling of documents have the recording, CNN said.
  • Trump has previously said all the document he took with him when leaving office were declassified.

Following a new CNN report about an audio recording that suggests former President Donald Trump knowingly took a classified document, legal experts are saying it could be the damning evidence needed to charge him under the Espionage Act.

CNN reported Wednesday that several sources told the outlet about a recording obtained by federal prosecutors in which Trump acknowledged he had taken a classified document that detailed a potential attack on Iran. The recording included Trump saying he was not sure he was able to declassify records after leaving the presidency, two sources said. The New York Times and CBS News have also confirmed the existence of the recording.

CNN said had not listened to the recording but was told about it by sources who called it an "important" piece of evidence. The sources said Jack Smith, the special counsel leading the Justice Department's investigations into Trump, has focused on the summer 2021 meeting in which the audio recording was taken.

Trump, whose Mar-A-Lago resort and residence were searched by the FBI in August, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and insisted all the documents recovered were "automatically" declassified. According to court documents, the raid turned up many records that retained classified markings, including some that were labeled "top secret." CNN reported the recording undercuts Trump's claim that he believed the documents were declassified.

The Department of Justice is investigating if Trump broke several laws, including the Espionage Act, which prohibits the sharing of information that could harm the US or give an advantage to foreign countries. The act is concerned with the "gathering, transmitting or losing defense information," including any national defense document that was "illegally removed from its proper place of custody ... to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed."

In a statement provided to Insider, a spokesperson for Trump accused the Justice Department of interfering in the 2024 election and said: "Leaks from radical partisans behind this political persecution are designed to inflame tensions and continue the media's harassment of President Trump and his supporters."

Legal experts respond to reports of the audio recording

"This is absolutely blockbuster evidence," Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, wrote on Twitter of the reported audio. "It proves that Trump *knew* he kept highly classified documents after he left office, that he shared the classified info with people who didn't have clearance, and 'suggests … he was aware of limitations' on his ability to declassify."

Peter Strzok, a former FBI agent, also said the audio as described would be "huge" in justifying an espionage charge by filling in essential gaps, including that the alleged audio could potentially show that Trump knew about declassifying procedures, knew he hadn't done it, and potentially told an unauthorized person about the document.

"Make no mistake. This is squarely an Espionage Act case. It is not simply an 'obstruction' case," Ryan Goodman, a law professor at New York University with expertise in national security, wrote on Twitter, adding, "There is now every reason to expect former President Trump will be charged" under the Espionage Act.

"The law fits his reported conduct like a hand in glove," Goodman said.

Richard W. Painter, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, also said it was a "clear violation of the Espionage Act," adding the "DOJ has no choice but to indict Trump."

Read the original article on Business Insider

15 reasons why an Amazon Prime membership is worth the $139 annual fee

Wed, 05/31/2023 - 10:36pm

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Even after a price increase, Amazon Prime can still save you money.

Amazon Prime might be the most popular subscription service in America. When you consider how many benefits it unlocks, it's not hard to understand why.

But at $139 a year — or $14.99 a month — a Prime subscription can take a big chunk out of your wallet. Even if you're an Amazon die-hard, you have to ask the question: Is Amazon Prime worth the money?

Yes, Amazon Prime is worth it, even at $139 a year

If you're using all the benefits that Amazon Prime unlocks, those perks more than make up for the steep cost. In 2018, banking firm JPMorgan even estimated that a Prime membership is worth $785 annually — and that value has only gone up as new features and services get added.

For the $139 yearly or $14.99 monthly fee, Prime members earn a ton of benefits. These include free one-day delivery, two-hour grocery delivery, premium streaming services like Prime Video and Prime Music, and an unbelievable amount of extra discounts and coupons. You'll also get access to Amazon Prime Day discounts on everything from new TVs to Instant Pots to Amazon Echo devices.

Even if you're not using every feature included with your Prime membership, it might still be worth it for the time saved alone. But for some households, a service like Walmart Plus might make more sense. We compare Amazon Prime and Walmart Plus here.

Here are some of our favorite Amazon Prime perks that make a subscription worth the cost, even at $139 a year.

 Save on shipping costsFree shipping is one of the key benefits of Amazon Prime.

Your Prime membership includes free two-day delivery on over 10 million items. And if your order is over $25, you might even unlock free one-day or same-day shipping. Without Prime, you'll only get free regular shipping if your order is over $25.

Shipping fees usually cost between $4 and $10. It doesn't take many purchases with Prime's free shipping to start noticing your savings.

A 2019 study showed that Amazon Prime members spend an average of $1,400 on the platform every year. If it weren't for free shipping, that number would be hundreds of dollars higher — more than enough to pay for a Prime subscription by itself.

Order fresh groceries with two-hour deliveryYou can order groceries with Amazon Prime in many locations.

Amazon operates two different grocery store brands: Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh. With a Prime subscription, you can order groceries and everyday essentials from both brands and have the products delivered right to your doorstep. And the prices aren't much different than those in physical grocery stores.

This service isn't available everywhere, and you need to meet a minimum price of $150. But if you're in a big city like New York or Los Angeles, you'll probably be able to have your groceries delivered in less than two hours.

Stream movies and music in HDPrime Video offers exclusive shows and movies.

Your Prime subscription comes with a free membership for both Prime Video and Prime Music

Prime Video is one of the hottest streaming services around, offering thousands of movies and TV shows. These include popular titles from the past few years and original Amazon shows like "The Boys" and "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." Some titles can't be streamed for free, but you can still buy or rent them for an extra fee. 

You'll also have access to Prime Music, Amazon's music streaming app with over 2 million songs and podcasts. There are no ads, and all the music streams in high quality.

Compare these two services to Netflix and Spotify Premium, which cost about $25 together. Saving $25 a month with Prime Video and Prime Music pays for Prime's yearly membership cost in six months.

Earn free video games and Twitch subsPrime Gaming links with Twitch for extra perks.

Prime Gaming lets you subscribe to one Twitch streamer for free every month — it normally costs $4.99 — which unlocks exclusive emotes and lets you watch ad-free.

But what some Prime subscribers don't realize is that Amazon gives out free games to every Prime subscriber every month. These include fighting games, puzzle games, RPGs, shooters, and more. You'll also have the chance to redeem free rewards in popular games like "Warframe" and "League of Legends."

Few Amazon Prime perks give you more than Prime Gaming — be sure to take advantage of it.

Store all your photos and videos safelyAmazon Photos is a great cloud-storage alternative.

Amazon Photos lets you save and share an unlimited amount of full-resolution photos across all your devices. You can share that unlimited storage with up to five people. If you're paying every month for extra iCloud or Google Drive storage just to make room for your photos, you can cut out that cost.

You'll also get 5 GB for videos and files. And Amazon Photos comes pre-installed on Amazon devices, so you can also view your photos on a Fire TV or Echo Show.

Save money with Prime Day and exclusive dealsPrime Day gives you access to the best deals around.

Amazon Prime Day is an annual shopping holiday, like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, where thousands of items go on sale. Log into Amazon on Prime Day, and you'll find gadgets, furniture, clothing, accessories, and more selling for lower prices than they do all year.

But here's the catch: Those deals only show up for Prime subscribers. Aside from free shipping, Prime Day is probably the number one way to save money with your Prime membership. If you've been saving up for a certain product, like a TV or game console, check it out on Prime Day for the best price. You can learn more about the perks in our "What is Prime Day" guide.

Your Prime membership also unlocks an exclusive coupon book and regularly rotating deals. And if you choose the "no-rush" option when placing an order, you'll earn discounts on future purchases in exchange for waiting a few days longer for that order to arrive.

Try clothes on at home before actually buying themPrime Try Before You Buy makes online shopping easier.

The best part of going clothes shopping is getting to try clothes on before you buy them. But Amazon Prime subscribers don't have to give that up when they shop for clothes online.

The Prime Try Before You Buy perk lets you order up to eight items to try on for a week. Keep the ones you want to buy, and send back the ones you don't — you'll only be charged for what you kept.

And for an extra $4.99 fee, you can hire a personal stylist to pick out a set of clothes for you.

If you've ever gotten burned by online clothes shopping, Try Before You Buy is a great way to save money and frustration.

Buy your medications at lower pricesPrime Rx can save you money on medication.

Amazon Prime Rx is a newer feature that lets members find the cheapest prices for their medications and have them shipped either to their homes or a nearby pharmacy.

You don't need to have insurance to use Prime Rx. For users spending hundreds of dollars each month on medications, Prime Rx can be a lifesaver.

Access books, magazines, and comicsPrime Reading offers a digital library that's tough to beat.

Prime members get access to Prime Reading, a massive digital library for books, magazines, and comics. The exact titles available rotate occasionally, but members can read anything in the library for free. Some titles even come with audiobook versions, perfect for listening on the go.

Alongside Prime Reading, Prime also includes the Amazon First Reads program, which lets you read selected titles before they go on sale to the public.

Sign up for kid-friendly subscriptionsAmazon Prime has additional benefits for kids.

Amazon Prime isn't just for the grown-ups. Prime members earn discounts on two premium kid-focused subscription services: Amazon Kids Plus and Amazon Book Box.

Kids Plus offers a suite of age-appropriate books, movies, shows, and apps for kids ages 3 to 12. There are also parental control options that you can use to fine-tune exactly what your child is seeing. It costs $4.99 a month or $48 a year for Prime Customers — down from $7.99 or $79 for non-Prime users.

If you want to stay away from the apps and games, consider Amazon Book Box. Made exclusively for Prime members, Book Box lets you order a box full of curated children's books every month. You get to pick an age group before you order, so the books will always be age-appropriate. It costs $16.99 for the first box and then $19.99 for every box afterward.

Unlock discounts and perks on other websitesPrime gives you access to perks from other partner brands.

Amazon's reach stretches far beyond its own website. Amazon Prime customers shopping on Shopbop, East Dane, Woot!, or Zappos will get free shipping, discounts, and more.

Zappos especially loves Prime customers. Logging into Prime on the Zappos website or app lets you earn double the VIP points on every order and try on shoes for up to 30 days before deciding whether to buy them.

Get cashback on every purchase with a special Visa cardThe Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card takes your benefits to the next level.

Want to keep saving money, even outside of Amazon? Prime subscribers can apply for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card

This card will get you 5% cash back on all Amazon or Whole Foods orders, 2% back at restaurants and gas stations, and 1% back on everything else. And that's not even counting the points, which you can turn into more cash back or Amazon discounts.

If you're approved for the card, you'll also immediately receive a $70 Amazon gift card.

Get Prime 50% off if you're a student or EBT recipientStudents and EBT recipients get a discount on Prime.

If you're currently a student at an American university and have a .edu email address, you're entitled to a six-month trial of Prime Student at no cost. Once it's over, your Prime membership will be half the price of a regular membership ($69 a year or $7.49 a month). It'll last four years or until your indicated graduation date — whichever comes first.

Similarly, qualifying customers with an EBT or Medicaid card only have to pay $6.99 a month. There's no yearly plan.

Share your Prime benefits with the entire familyAmazon Household supplies Prime benefits for the whole family.

One of the easiest ways to maximize your Prime savings is to use Amazon Household. This lets up to two adults, four teens, and four child profiles link up in a "Household," and all enjoy every Prime benefit for no extra charge. This is leagues less expensive than having everyone pay for their own Prime account.

Adults on the account will also get to approve purchases from teen profiles and set parental controls on child profiles.

Give yourself time and flexibilityThe best part about Prime is flexibility.

More so than money, maybe the most valuable thing Amazon Prime can give you is time. Between quick shipping times and release-day deliveries on brand-new products, you'll rarely have to wait long for your orders to arrive.

Features like Amazon Day and Amazon Key In-Garage deliveries give you more control over when your packages arrive, too. You don't need to worry about missing your deliveries because you're not home.

Amazon Prime gets you millions of items quickly and cheaply. There are few deals better for your money.

Who Amazon Prime isn't worth the money forAmazon Prime isn't right for everybody.

For most customers, Amazon Prime is a great way to save money over time. But every customer is different, and not everyone will be amazed by Prime's benefits and features.

If you don't buy items from Amazon often, you might not save enough on free shipping to justify the $139 yearly fee. The same is true if you don't plan on using the entertainment services that Prime unlocks, like Prime Video, Prime Music, and Prime Reading.

Some of Prime's benefits are also pretty niche. Kids Plus and Book Box won't mean much if you don't have children. And the Prime Gaming perks are aimed at users who regularly watch Twitch streams and play games like "League of Legends," which might not be you.

There's also a human cost. Reporters have written countless articles about how Amazon's push to ship products as fast as possible has led to unsafe working conditions for its employees. The more customers order products using Prime, the faster Amazon's warehouses must move to fulfill those orders. Depending on your views, the money saved with Prime might not be worth that.

Amazon Prime is a massively popular and cost-effective subscription. But it's not for everyone — think about what services you know you'll use before you sign up and pay $139.

Mara Leighton and Tercius Bufete contributed to a previous version of this article.

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Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin says he will vote with Republicans to overturn Biden's student-debt relief plans, saying it 'forces hard-working taxpayers who already paid off their loans' to 'shoulder the cost'

Wed, 05/31/2023 - 6:02pm
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
  • Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said he supports the GOP-led bill to overturn student-debt relief.
  • The Senate is expected to take a final vote on the legislation on Thursday.
  • The House passed the bill last week with bipartisan support.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin will join Republicans in voting on a bill to overturn President Joe Biden's student-debt relief plan.

On Wednesday, the Senate voted to advance a GOP-led bill that would overturn Biden's plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for federal borrowers, along with immediately ending the payment pause. Three Democratic lawmakers — Kyrsten Sinema, John Tester, and Manchin — joined Republicans in advancing the legislation that is headed to a full Senate vote on Thursday.

The House passed the bill last week, and Biden previously said that if it ends up making it to his desk, he will veto the legislation.

Following the procedural vote, Manchin released a statement of support for "overturning reckless student loan plan."

"Today I voted to repeal the Biden Administration's student loan cancellation proposal because we simply cannot afford to add another $400 billion to the national debt," Manchin said in the statement.

"There are already more than 50 existing student loan repayment and forgiveness programs aimed at attracting individuals to vital service jobs, such as teachers, health care workers, and public servants," he continued. "This Biden proposal undermines these programs and forces hard-working taxpayers who already paid off their loans or did not go to college to shoulder the cost. Instead, we should be focusing on bipartisan student debt reforms that reduce the cost of higher education and help all Americans."

The legislation was first introduced in March using the Congressional Review Act, which is a fast-track tool Congress can use to overturn final rules put in place by federal agencies. Some Democrats and advocates have previously said that given the language of the CRA statute, ending the payment pause would have a retroactive effect, meaning payments made during the pause would be reinstated.

It's unclear if other Democrats will end up joining Manchin for the final vote. But some Democratic lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have bashed the bill and urged their colleagues to oppose it.

"Republicans have tried to sell this CRA as their attempt to block President Biden from canceling up to $20,000 of student debt for working families that need it most – nothing more," Warren said on the Senate floor on Wednesday. "But make no mistake: voting for this CRA isn't just a vote against the President's student debt cancellation plan. It's also a vote to force nearly 40 million hardworking Americans to immediately pay back months of student loan payments and interest and restore an estimated $20 billion of student debt to the balances of tens of thousands of public servants."

And Schumer wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that "Senate Republicans talk a big game about helping working families. But their legislation to deny millions of student loan borrowers the critical relief they need shows how callous and uncaring they are."

—Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 31, 2023

Still, Republicans are continuing to urge their colleagues to support the legislation to block student-loan forgiveness. Sen. Bill Cassidy, one of the sponsors of the bill, wrote on Twitter that "Biden's so-called student debt "forgiveness plan" doesn't actually forgive or cancel the debt. Instead, it transfers the burden from those who WILLINGLY chose to take out debt to attend college to those who chose not to go to college or already paid off their loans. It's unfair!"

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Patagonia accuses Nordstrom of selling 'thousands' of fake Patagonia sweatshirts and T-shirts at its Rack stores

Wed, 05/31/2023 - 5:41pm
An alleged "counterfeit" Patagonia sweatshirt sold at Nordstrom.
  • Patagonia filed a lawsuit against Nordstrom in California federal court on Tuesday accusing the retailer of selling 'counterfeit' Patagonia products.
  • Patagonia and Nordstrom had a "years-long relationship" that ended recently, per the lawsuit.
  • Patagonia also says Nordstrom committed trademark and copyright infringement with its sales.

Nordstrom has sold "thousands of counterfeit Patagonia sweatshirts and T-shirts" throughout this year, the clothing brand said in a lawsuit filed against the Seattle-based department store chain.

Patagonia had a "years-long dealer relationship" with Nordstrom, but after Patagonia chose to end the agreement Nordstrom sold "counterfeit" Patagonia items in its off-price Nordstrom Rack stores in 2023, according to the suit filed Tuesday in the US District Court for the Central District of California. 

"Patagonia has spent decades, and invested millions of dollars, to establish product quality and fair labor practices as pillars of its brand," according to the lawsuit. "These counterfeit products prey on Patagonia's reputation, misleading customers into buying poor quality products that were, on information and belief, made in factories with conditions that do not meet Fair Trade Certified requirements."

Patagonia says in the lawsuit that the counterfeit clothing was "obvious", with examples like typographical errors on tags and one item claiming to be made of both 100% polyester and organic cotton.

An alleged counterfeit Patagonia clothing item claiming to be both 100% polyester and made of organic cotton.

Nordstrom and Patagonia both did not respond immediately to Insider's inquiries about the lawsuit.

"We are aware of the lawsuit and take these allegations seriously. We are currently reviewing the matter," a Nordstrom spokesperson told legal fashion blog The Fashion Law.

Patagonia also says in the lawsuit that Nordstrom is committing both trademark and copyright infringement through its sales of these clothes.

"The fact that Defendant was previously an authorized dealer – and therefore familiar with Patagonia's trademarks, products, and labeling – underscores the willfulness with which Defendant decided to source and sell the counterfeit products at issue in this lawsuit," the lawsuit reads.

A tag attached to an alleged counterfeit Patagonia clothing item showing a typographical error.

Patagonia is asking for a judge to rule Nordstrom has committed trademark and copyright infringement; that it has competed unfairly with Patagonia; and that Nordstrom has used "counterfeit reproduction" of Patagonia's products.

Additionally, Patagonia is asking a judge to immediately prevent Nordstrom from manufacturing, producing, sourcing, importing, and selling any products that resemble Patagonia's products and trademark. The company is also looking for Nordstrom to be forced to recall all of the "counterfeit" Patagonia items it sold and that it pays Patagonia for lost profits and damages.

Do you work for Nordstrom or Patagonia? Contact reporter Ben Tobin by email at

Read the original article on Business Insider

Project Veritas sues its founder James O'Keefe, alleging he set up a competitor and wooed donors while on the company's payroll

Wed, 05/31/2023 - 5:32pm
James O'Keefe.
  • Project Veritas is suing its founder and former leader, James O'Keefe.
  • O'Keefe set up a competitor right-wing political sting operation earlier this year amid allegations of financial misconduct.
  • Project Veritas alleges that he violated his employment contract and wooed donors from a confidential list.

The right-wing activist group Project Veritas filed a lawsuit Wednesday against its founder, James O'Keefe, alleging he violated his employment agreement by establishing a competing organization and wooing away donors while still on Project Veritas' payroll.

"Being known as the founder of an organization does not entitle that person to run amok and put his own interests ahead of that organization," the lawsuit says. "Defendant James O'Keefe ("O'Keefe") failed in his duties to Plaintiff, Project Veritas, causing it serious and significant damage."

Project Veritas quickly became an important part of the right-wing political and media ecosystem after O'Keefe founded it in 2010.

It has conducted sting operations against perceived enemies, including Planned Parenthood, Pfizer, and mainstream media outlets, Pfizer. A number of its operations have backfired on the organization, including an unsuccessful effort in 2017 to plant a false sexual misconduct allegation against then-US Senate candidate Roy Moore in the Washington Post.

According to the lawsuit, the Project Veritas board of directors placed O'Keefe on paid leave on February 6 following accusations from employees that he mismanaged finances, targeted female employees, and "behaved unprofessionally during team meetings, including by screaming at coworkers and belittling them and their contributions to Project Veritas."

Company employees have additionally alleged that O'Keefe had "strained relationships with several donors because he was routinely late for meetings and rude at VIP events designed to give donors extra access to O'Keefe," the lawsuit said.

The complaint also accused O'Keefe of using company funds to finance his lifestyle. Among other things, the suit alleges that O'Keefe used a company credit card to book lavish hotel rooms and private car services; flew first class on Project Veritas' dime in cases where the flight was not covered by the company's policy for approving first-class flights; and directed Project Veritas to shell out more than $10,000 for a helicopter from New York to Maine.

He racked up roughly $19,000 in personal expenses on the company card even after his permission to use it was revoked upon being placed on paid leave on February 6, the lawsuit said.

Later that month, O'Keefe founded the O'Keefe Media Organization, which is also a defendant in the lawsuit along with two other Project Veritas employees who assisted with the project.

The O'Keefe Media Organization directly competes with Project Veritas — a violation of O'Keefe's employment contract, Project Veritas alleges. O'Keefe also solicited donors using a confidential list kept by Project Veritas, according to the lawsuit.

"O'Keefe has and continues to solicit Project Veritas's donors, employees and contractors, in direct violation of his Employment Agreement, for and on behalf of OMG," the lawsuit alleged.

During this period of time, O'Keefe was still on Project Veritas payroll, according to the lawsuit. He was kept on the board until April 24 and removed from the company entirely on May 15, the lawsuit said.

O'Keefe didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon's Ring will pay $5.8 million to settle FTC lawsuit alleging employees and third-party contractors had unrestricted access to customer videos

Wed, 05/31/2023 - 4:54pm
Amazon's Ring will pay the FTC $5.8 million to settle a lawsuit over privacy violation claims.
  • Amazon's Ring will pay the FTC $5.8 million to settle a lawsuit claiming privacy violations, according to Wednesday court filings.
  • The FTC alleged Ring employees and third-party contractors had unrestricted access to customers' video recordings.
  • A Ring spokesperson denied the company violated the law, and told Insider the issues were addressed "years ago."

Amazon-owned smart doorbell company Ring agreed to settle a lawsuit filed against the company by the Federal Trade Commission regarding privacy and data security concerns.

Ring will pay $5.8 million to the FTC and implement a new system for data security as part of the settlement, according to court documents filed Wednesday. The surveillance company — which was acquired by Amazon in 2018 in a $1 billion deal — is used by millions as a form of security, but the FTC alleged Ring employees had unrestricted access to footage on customers' home security systems.

"Ring promptly addressed these issues on its own years ago, well before the FTC began its inquiry," a Ring spokesperson told Insider. "While we disagree with the FTC's allegations and deny violating the law, this settlement resolves this matter so we can focus on innovating on behalf of our customers."

In one instance, a Ring employee viewed thousands of recordings from at least 81 female Ring camera users between June and August 2017, CNN reported

"Only after the supervisor noticed that the male employee was only viewing videos of 'pretty girls' did the supervisor escalate the report of misconduct," the FTC alleged in its complaint, obtained by CNN. "Only at that point did Ring review a portion of the employee's activity and, ultimately, terminate his employment."

The FTC further alleged that employees of a third-party contractor in Ukraine also had access to customer footage with little restrictions before July 2017, according to CNBC.

In 2022, a US Senator probe found evidence that Amazon was handing over footage from Ring doorbells to police without consent from the owners of the cameras.

"We will continue to prioritize privacy, security, and user control as we pursue and improve technologies to help achieve our mission of making neighborhoods safer," Amazon's vice president of public policy Brian Huseman said in a July 2022 statement.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How much money TikTokers make, according to creators

Wed, 05/31/2023 - 4:44pm
  • TikTok has created a new generation of digital stars who have built massive audiences on the app.
  • But many creators are still experimenting with how to make money.
  • Here's how much TikTokers earn from brand deals, song promotions, livestreams, its Creator Fund, and other programs.

TikTok ushered in a new generation of digital stars. But for many creators, it can be difficult to make money from TikTok alone.

Unlike YouTube, which has a well-established ads program that shares a percentage of ad revenue for longer videos with qualifying creators, TikTok has only recently begun experimenting with splitting ad dollars with some of its influencers.

Outside of ad-revenue sharing, TikTok has several built-in monetization tools like virtual "gifts," as well as a Creator Fund to pay users with at least 10,000 followers and 100,000 views in a 30-day period for their videos.

Thus far, the Creator Fund has represented a small piece of the pie when it comes to influencer earnings, creators told Insider

Read more about how much six TikTok influencers earned from the Creator Fund

Outside of the Creator Fund, TikTok also began in 2023 testing a Creativity Program meant to pay users "higher average gross revenue" for videos that are longer than one minute. It also launched a $6 million fund for augmented-reality effect creators.

Despite its early tests in ad-revenue sharing and a slew of different payment programs, many TikTok creators still rely on brand deals for the bulk of their earnings.

Alex Ojeda, a waterpark creator who has around 8 million followers on TikTok, told Insider in 2022 that his rate for a single sponsored video on the app was $20,000. 

Read more about how Ojeda is using TikTok to make money and build a career in the waterpark industry

How much TikTokers make from the Creator Fund

While brand deals tend to be the most lucrative option for creators on TikTok, many still enroll in the Creator Fund to see what they can score each month.

Creator Fund payments aren't calculated based on views alone, but the effective payouts for videos have amounted to a few pennies for every one thousand video plays, some TikTokers have told Insider. Top TikTok creators like Hank Green and MrBeast have spoken out about the low payouts, with Green revealing in a January 2022 YouTube video that he was paid what amounted to between $0.02 and $0.03 for every one thousand views on TikTok.

Personal-finance influencer Preston Seo, who now has 2.4 million TikTok followers, earned a total of about $1,664 from the Creator Fund between January 2021 and May 2021, according to documentation he shared with Insider. His TikTok account earns between $9 to $38 a day on average. Other creators who shared their fund earnings with Insider reported similar daily payouts.

Read more about Seo's TikTok strategy as a personal-finance creator

How much TikTokers make from its ad-revenue sharing program, Pulse

The Creator Fund isn't the only in-app monetization tool for TikTok creators.

The company also shares some ad revenue with creators through a contextual-advertising program called TikTok Pulse.

In May 2022, the company announced brands could buy ads alongside "the top 4%" of content in different categories like cooking, beauty, and fashion. It said it would split 50% of the revenue with the creator whose video appeared before the in-feed ad. Only creators with at least 100,000 followers qualify for the program.

As with the Creator Fund, the first two payments from TikTok Pulse have been disappointing, creators told Insider

Eight influencers who shared their monthly payouts, view counts, and revenue for every 1,000 video views (RPM) from Pulse earned between a few pennies and $17 in their first two monthly payments. The creators had between a few hundred thousand and a few million followers; Several make content around gaming, while others film lifestyle videos.

Read more about how much TikTokers are earning from Pulse as the app starts to share ad revenue

TikTok is testing new funds to pay longer form and AR creators

In 2023, the company introduced two other fund-based programs designed to encourage specific types of content creation.

The first, its Creativity Program meant to reward creators that post videos longer than one minute, is restricted to users that have at least 10,000 followers and have achieved 100,000 video views in the past 30 days. Users can only participate in the Creativity Program or the Creator Fund, not both. 

TikTok's Effect Creator Rewards program, announced in May 2023, offers augmented-reality creators a base pay of $700 and up to $14,000 for effects that appear in at least 500,000 videos. At launch, the $6 million fund is only available to users who are at least 18 years old and are based in the US, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, and Germany.

Read more about TikTok's new fund for augmented-reality creators

Other built-in TikTok monetization features

Some TikTokers also make money by receiving virtual "gifts" during livestreams or in other parts of the app, which can be converted into cash. ASMR content creator Lucy Davis told Insider she earns between $20 and $300 each time she goes live, for example.

Jakey Boehm, an Australian creator who livestreams on TikTok while he sleeps, earned $34,000 from TikTok Live in a single month.

"It's seriously life-changing money," he told Insider. "The first week I made about $5,000 dollars, and that's where I thought 'This is big, I can do something really crazy here.'"

Read more about how creators are making money from TikTok's built-in monetization features:

How TikTok creators make money from brand sponsorships

Because virtual gifts, Creator Fund payments, and Pulse earnings don't pay the bills on their own, many influencers turn to brand deals to earn money from their TikTok content. Rates for a sponsored post can vary widely depending on a creator's follower count and content niche.

Seo, for example, said he charged about $600 per sponsored post on TikTok.

Symphony Clarke, an Atlanta-based TikTok creator with about 200,000 fans, told Insider that she charged between $350 and $600 for a sponsored post.

Other TikTok influencers earn money by making content for companies to use on a brand's own TikTok account. Fitness creator Salha Aziz, for instance, charges hundreds of dollars to create UGC content for brands to use in marketing campaigns.  

Here's how much creators are earning from brand deals:

How TikTok creators make money from song promotions

One of the most popular ways to earn money as a TikToker is by promoting songs in videos. Music marketers and record labels regularly pay TikTok users to post on the app in an attempt to make a new track go viral. 

TikTok-creator trio Nicole, Natalie, and Nika Taylor, who now have around 12.7 million followers on the app, told Insider they charge $750 to promote a song in a single video, $1,400 for two videos, and $2,000 for three videos.

Read more about how much TikTok creators get paid to promote songs on the app

Music producers can also make money on TikTok by creating sped up, slowed down, or remixed versions of tracks for artists and record labels.

Read more about how much creators get paid to promote new tracks on TikTok:

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden and McCarthy's plan to change SNAP work requirements in the debt-ceiling deal could actually expand benefits — but not employment

Wed, 05/31/2023 - 4:29pm
US President Joe Biden.
  • The debt-ceiling deal includes new work requirements for SNAP recipients.
  • The CBO estimated the new requirements could actually expand benefits through the program.
  • But contrary to a common GOP belief, some economists don't think requirements will boost employment.

President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy finally have a deal to address the debt-ceiling crisis — but it included an unexpected twist for food-stamp recipients.

On Saturday night, Biden and McCarthy announced they had come to an agreement on raising the debt ceiling until 2025 in legislation called the Fiscal Responsibility Act. After months of stalemate, neither party got exactly what they wanted — McCarthy was unable to get $4.5 trillion in spending cuts that he initially proposed, while Biden did not get an entirely clean debt ceiling deal without any cuts attached.

One particularly contentious element of the bill is a set of new work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs.

Many Americans who wish to receive SNAP benefits have to work or complete training programs if they are between the ages of 18 and 49. That can be the case for an "able bodied adult without dependents." The bill would eventually raise the maximum age to 54.

After the text of the bill was released, some Democratic lawmakers criticized the work requirements.

"As somebody who was a food stamp recipient, there is absolutely no way I can see myself green-lighting something that will take food from people's mouths," Missouri Rep. Cori Bush told reporters on Tuesday. 

She led some of her Democratic colleagues in introducing an amendment to remove the new SNAP work requirements from the debt-ceiling bill.

But the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its cost estimates of the bill on Tuesday evening, and it found that the SNAP proposal could actually end up expanding the number of Americans who receive those benefits. It would exempt veterans, homeless people, and "people ages 18 to 24 who were in foster care when they turned 18" from the work requirements for SNAP, according to a CBO letter to McCarthy.

"During the 2025–2030 period, when the group of people up to the age of 54 would be subject to the work requirement and the new exclusions were in effect, approximately 78,000 people would gain benefits in an average month, on net," the CBO letter said, adding that this would mean about a 0.2% increase "in the total number of people receiving SNAP benefits."

A White House official told reporters on a Tuesday press call that "time limits on SNAP eligibility amplify existing inequities in food and economic and economic security."

"At the President's insistence, SNAP changes are temporary, sunsetting at 2030, which provides an opportunity to reevaluate them," the official added.

Still, McCarthy criticized the CBO's estimate that the deal would expand SNAP eligibility. 

"Come see me in a year, and I'll show you how much we actually saved," McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday night. "You watch — a lot of people are going to get jobs now."

How the work requirements will impact employment

Despite McCarthy and Republicans' belief that work requirements will bolster employment, some experts aren't so sure.

Lauren Bauer, a fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution and the associate director of The Hamilton Project at Brookings, said during a media briefing on Wednesday that there's not that much "evidence that work requirements increase employment" and she "doesn't expect there to be any increased employment among the 50- to 54-year olds based on this deal."

"There might be a little bit, as I said before, because a substantial portion of this population works in the volatile low-wage labor market that they might be able to tack on a few extra hours to more consistently meet that threshold," Bauer said. "That is where I would expect to see any response to the policy change. But it's quite unlikely."

CBO also noted in a previous report the potential impacts on employment, writing in its report that "making the receipt of benefits contingent on working or preparing to work has substantially increased the employment rate of the targeted recipients in TANF during the year after they enter the program and by a smaller amount in later years. Work requirements in SNAP have increased employment less; in Medicaid, they appear to have had little effect on employment."

Bernard Yaros, an economist at Moody's Analytics, elaborated on the minimal impact SNAP work requirements would have on employment, telling Insider that "when you look at the dollars and cents that are involved here with the recent SNAP changes, we're just talking a couple billions of dollars," and added that "in the grand scheme of things of the US macroeconomy, it's not really going to move the needle in terms of really boosting labor supply."

Yaros said that "other headwinds to labor supply" like an "insufficient immigration system" as well as baby boomers who are deciding to retire "are much bigger weights on labor supply."

Despite the minimal impact on employment, many Democratic lawmakers don't want to see any work requirements in the debt-ceiling deal. Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Pramila Jayapal told reporters during a call on Tuesday that "even with the exemptions, it's going to mean that people have to go through a process, more bureaucratic red tape, to determine whether or not they qualify for those exemptions."

"I think it goes to the principle of this bureaucratic red tape that we call work requirements," Jayapal said. "They do not do anything to get people back into work. That is what reams of data have shown. They are extremely detrimental to getting assistance to people that need it the most."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon introduces palm-scanning technology that would let customers buy a beer without reaching for their wallet at the bar

Wed, 05/31/2023 - 4:28pm
Patrons can hover their palm over the Amazon One scanner to have both their age and payment details verified if they want to buy a beer.
  • Amazon has announced that its Amazon One feature will soon be used to purchase alcohol.
  • The technology allows customers to have their age and payment information accessed by their palm.
  • The new technology will first be introduced at the Coors Field in Denver.

One day, you may soon be able to leave for a night out without your wallet or purse as Amazon has launched a "palm-based identity service" that scans your hand to pay for alcohol.

On May 22, the tech giant announced that Amazon One, a scanner that can identify people based on their palm and allow them to make payments without reaching into their wallets, can now verify a person's age. The change would make purchasing alcohol at places like bars and ballgames a more seamless experience, per the announcement. Amazon's palm scanners are currently in use at its Go stores and in more than 100 Whole Foods stores around the US, The Verge reported.

Those who wish to sign up for the new technology must upload a selfie, pictures of the front and back of their government-issued ID. According to the announcement, the company does not store customers' IDs. The idea is to make it a simpler process to verify their age when buying a drink. The scanner analyzes surface details of an individual's palm and pulling up a "21+" message along with a selfie of the customer. 

The company plans to showcase Amazon One's new feature at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball team, at the stadium's SandLot Brewery and Silver Bullet Bar, according the announcement.

"Hearing from Amazon One customers across the country, we understand that they love the convenience it delivers: shorter wait times, quick access to buildings and locations, being able to link their loyalty memberships, and now an easy way to grab their beer," John McKay, senior director of food service operations and development for the Colorado Rockies, said.

While large ballparks, which experience long lines of customers, could stand to benefit from a more frictionless process, one bar owner isn't convinced the technology is fully necessary at the average neighborhood bar. 

Palm scanning could change critical bar interactions

Matt Hogan, the owner of Brooklyn's Irish Haven for the past 12 years, told Insider that the benefits of Amazon One depend on the volume of customers a bar receives. Irish Haven was a cash-only bar for decades before introducing digital payments in 2020, so Hogan is hesitant to implement palm payments and age verification.

Amazon One, Hogan said, could eliminate an important conversation between a bartender and patrons to determine if a person has been drinking prior to visiting his bar.

"When someone presents an ID, there's an exchange of, sort of, vetting that that person hasn't been over served somewhere else," Hogan said. "You learn a lot about a person in that first 10 to 20 seconds."

 "Automation would take that away from me. That would be a lost asset," Hogan added. 

In 2022, Amazon's falter with brick-and-mortar stores led the retail giant to shift its focus to licensing its cashierless technology to third-party retailers

Read the original article on Business Insider

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