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    Russia's state-controlled media has devised a new way to spread its propaganda videos about the invasion of Ukraine. Researchers at the U.S.-based intelligence firm Nisos say in a new report that Russia has disguised its own propaganda videos so they can be posted on platforms such as Twitter without revealing their true origin. The videos falsely claim Ukraine caused civilian deaths attributed to Russian forces or say residents of areas forcibly annexed by Russia welcome their occupiers. The new tactic is Russia's latest attempt to circumvent efforts by European governments and tech companies trying to stop Kremlin propaganda and disinformation about the war.

      Elon Musk’s sudden about face on a $44 billion agreement to acquire Twitter, reversing an earlier attempt to rescind that offer, came as a surprise even from the mercurial billionaire who loves to shock. But it wasn’t all that surprising to experts who have observed the monthslong legal battle between Musk and Twitter. The news sent shares of the social media platform soaring and stoked alarm among some media watchdogs and civil rights groups. Twitter has been trying to compel the world’s richest man to consummate the buyout he proposed in April. A combination of gambles or missteps by Musk and potential advantages that didn’t pan out made his hand appear weak in the looming trial.

        The Michigan Economic Development Corporation approved two incentives packages totaling over $400 million for two electric vehicle battery facilities that will cost an estimated $4 billion and bring 4,500 jobs to the state. Final approval of the packages will now go to lawmakers and will come from a fund created last year to help the state land major business expansions. Energy-storage company Our Next Energy will build its $1.6 billion facility in the Detroit suburb of Novi while Gotion, a Chinese manufacturer, will build a $2.4 billion facility in Big Rapids in northern Michigan. The facilities will help manufacture electric vehicle battery components.

          An independent expert appointed to mediate in the bitter dispute between the Dutch government and the nation’s farmers over plans to drastically slash emissions of nitrogen and ammonia has presented a report that includes a suggestion that the government buy out hundreds of the heaviest polluters. The report published Wednesday could reignite protests by farmers who say their way of life is under threat and cause tensions in Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s four-party ruling coalition over how best to move forward. Johan Remkes said in his 58-page report that “it is necessary in the very short term to emit much less nitrogen.” He adds: “I write this with a heavy heart, but I see no other way.”

            Health insurers will flood the Medicare Advantage market again this fall with enticing offers of plans that have no monthly price tag. The number of so-called zero-premium plans has been growing for years, and they can appeal to retirees who live on fixed incomes. But experts say shoppers should exercise caution before jumping at the bargain. Independent broker Melissa Brenner says variables like a plan's doctor and prescription coverage are more important to consider initially than price.  Medicare Advantage premiums have been falling, and shoppers might find better coverage that comes with a relatively small monthly cost.

            U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss has defended her economic plans as she tries to convince her Conservative Party that the pain unleashed by her tax-cutting agenda will be worth it. Truss closed a tumultuous Conservative conference with a speech to delegates in the central English city of Birmingham. Many are glum after a four-day gathering that saw policy U-turns from the government and open rebellion from lawmakers. Truss said all change brings disruption, and vowed to stick with her plan to reshape Britain’s economy through tax cuts and deregulation and create “a new Britain for the new era.” But many Tories fear the party is doomed to lose the next national election.

            Qatar’s emir is paying his first visit to the Czech Republic, for business talks expected to include a potential deal for deliveries of Qatari liquefied natural gas. He was formally greeted by Czech President Milos Zeman at the Prague Castle Wednesday. Among other issues, talks are expected to focus on deliveries of liquified natural gas from Qatar, the world’s biggest LNG exporter. The Czech Republic, like other European nations, is seeking alternative sources for fossil fuels to replace its former dependence on Russian gas following the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine. During his three-day visit, the emir is also expected to meet some of the leaders from more than 40 countries who are attending a summit in Prague on Thursday.

            European Union countries have agreed to impose a price cap on Russian oil and other new sanctions after Moscow illegally annexed four regions in Ukraine. The sanctions announced Wednesday also include curbs on EU exports of aircraft components to Russia and limits on Russian steel imports. The EU will impose a ban on transporting Russian oil by sea to other countries above the price cap, which the Group of Seven wealthy democracies want in place by Dec. 5, when an EU embargo on most Russian oil takes effect. A specific price for the future cap has yet to be defined.

            Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed laws absorbing four Ukrainian regions into Russia. His move finalizes an annexation carried out in violation of international law. In a defiant move, the Kremlin on Wednesday held the door open for further land grabs in Ukraine. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “certain territories will be reclaimed, and we will keep consulting residents who would be eager to embrace Russia.” Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” that Ukraine and Western leaders rejected as a sham preceded the annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions into Russia. However, Russia's military is struggling to control the illegally absorbed areas.

            Elon Musk wants Twitter again — and Twitter is game. The billionaire Tesla CEO has proposed buying the company at the originally agreed-on price of $44 billion. That brings the tumultuous, monthslong saga another step closer to a conclusion. Musk made the surprising turnaround in a letter to Twitter that the company disclosed in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It came less than two weeks before a trial between the two parties over Musk’s attempt to back out of the deal is scheduled to start in Delaware. Musk also faced a scheduled deposition by Twitter attorneys starting Thursday.

            With fewer employees working in offices, several companies have begun turning toward off-site retreats and meetups to foster connection and improve employee morale. These off-site experiences are flipping traditional business travel on its head: Rather than emphasizing coworking, meetings and other work-centric itineraries, off-site retreats are often designed to encourage relationship building. While the off-site industry is still in its infancy, several companies are making bets on the longevity of this new type of business travel, launching full-service retreat management companies to simplify the planning of such company activities.

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            Content by Brand Ave. Studios. The annual Amazon Prime Day is coming July 12 and 13, and per usual will offer discounts on many of your favorite things.

            A cut in oil production is on the table when OPEC oil-producing countries meet Wednesday. The OPEC+ alliance that includes Saudi Arabia and Russia is weighing a cut of a million barrels per day or more. The idea is to boost oil prices that have fallen from summer highs of over $100 to around $80 for U.S. crude. Higher prices would help OPEC+ member Russia, which will likely to have to lower prices to find new customers after a European ban goes into effect. A cut could mean higher pump prices for U.S. drivers. Gasoline prices have fallen from record highs this summer but have started to tick back up.

            The World Trade Organization is predicting global trade volumes to grow a lackluster 1% next year as higher energy prices, rising interest rates and uncertainties about Chinese manufacturing output amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic weigh on markets. The Geneva-based trade body said Wednesday that the total amount of goods shipped between countries are expected to rise 3.5% this year, up from the 3% that WTO anticipated in its first forecast for the year in April. Trade volumes are set to grow just 1% next year, down from the 3.4% expected previously.

            Florida’s home insurance market was already on shaky ground. It now faces an even mightier struggle after the damage caused by Hurricane Ian. Wind and storm-surge losses from the hurricane could reach between $28 billion and $47 billion, making Ian Florida’s costliest storm since Hurricane Andrew made landfall in 1992, according to one property analytics firm. The storm destroyed a record number of homes in Florida, the firm said. The wreckage comes at a time when Florida’s home insurance market was already dealing with billions of dollars in losses and ever-increasing costs from a string of natural disasters, rampant litigation and increasing fraud.

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