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April 17, 2014
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Flyers in Donetsk, Ukraine telling Jewish residents they need to register and pay a fee to pro-Russian separatists are likely a hoax or extortion scheme, TIME reports.

The news spread on Wednesday via a small local website based in eastern Ukraine. The site claimed that three masked men were passing out anti-Semitic flyers outside of a synagogue, which ordered Jewish residents to register with a militia, show proof of property they own, and pay a fee of $50 in U.S. currency. Eventually, the story made its way to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who told reporters in Geneva, "In the year 2014, after all of the miles traveled and all of the journey of history, this is not just intolerable, it's grotesque. It is beyond unacceptable."

TIME points out that the evidence is leaning toward this all being propaganda or a badly thought out extortion plot. The signature at the bottom of the flyer is "the People's Governor of Donetsk, Denis Pushilin," but the actual man who calls himself the "People's Governor" is Pavel Gubarev. Pushilin has already stated that he has nothing to do with the flyer, telling Russia Today, "in reality, this is a fake, and a pretty unsuccessful one. It was all done with Photoshop."

An organizer who supports the unity of Ukraine told TIME that he believes the flyers are being used by a splinter group of separatists who are looking for money. As for the local Jewish community, no one has any plans to register or pay a fine. "It looked like a pretty stupid provocation," Larissa Loyko, a representative of the Jewish Foundation of Ukraine, said. "But this is not the kind of matter that can be turned into a prank. Someone will have to answer for this." Catherine Garcia

9:32 p.m. ET
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After a 2015 internal study requested by Pentagon leaders showed $125 billion was spent on administrative waste in its business operations, the report was quickly hidden over concerns Congress might use the information to cut the defense budget, The Washington Post reports.

Through interviews and confidential memos, the Post discovered that the point of the study was to make the Pentagon's back-office bureaucracy more efficient, and the money saved would then be reinvested in combat power. The Defense Business Board, looking at personnel and cost data, found that the Pentagon was spending $134 billion of its $580 billion budget on overhead and operations like human resources, accounting, and property management. More than 1 million people work in business operations, nearly as many as the 1.3 million active-duty troops. The report recommended early retirements and attrition, making better use of information technology, and cutting back on expensive contractors in order to save $125 billion over five years, the Post says. It did not suggest any layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel.

This report didn't go over well with some Pentagon leaders, who had no idea how much money was being spent on these operations and worried that by showcasing administrative waste, Congress and the White House might slash their budget, the Post says. A summary report had been made public, but was removed from the Pentagon's website, and they placed secrecy restrictions on the data. "They're all complaining that they don't have any money," Bobby Stein, who served as chairman of the Defense Business Board, told the Post. "We proposed a way to save a ton of money." He called the data "indisputable," and said it was a "travesty" for the Pentagon to keep the results hidden. "We're going to be in peril because we're spending dollars like it doesn't matter."

Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work, the second-highest-ranking official at the Pentagon, told the Post he didn't dispute the findings about the size and scope of the Pentagon's bureaucracy, but said the $125 billion savings proposal was "unrealistic" and the board did not understand how difficult it would be to cut so many federal civil service jobs. Read more about the report, how it was developed, and Defense Secretary Ash Carter's reaction to it at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

7:59 p.m. ET
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Smokers who think they're playing it safe by lighting up just one cigarette a day are still at much greater risk of dying early than nonsmokers, researchers announced Monday.

Writing in the American Medical Association's JAMA Internal Medicine, a team from the National Cancer Institute said that while looking at surveys submitted by almost 300,000 people who detailed their smoking habits over a lifetime, they found that people who said they smoked an average of less than one cigarette a day had a 64 percent higher risk of dying early than nonsmokers. Smokers who went through up to half a pack a day, when averaged over a lifetime, had an 87 percent higher risk of dying early than people who had never smoked.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans every year. Smoking rates have dropped in the United States, with only about 15 percent of adults partaking, but the number of people who said they smoke fewer than 10 cigarettes a day has jumped from 16 percent in 2005 to 27 percent in 2014. "The results of this study support health warnings that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke," study leader Maki Inoue-Choi said. "Together, these findings indicate that smoking even a small number of cigarettes per day has substantial negative effects and provide further evidence that smoking cessation benefits all smokers, regardless of how few cigarettes they smoke." Catherine Garcia

6:55 p.m. ET
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A U.N. Security Council proposal aimed at ending the fighting in Aleppo, Syria, was vetoed Monday by Russia and China.

Syrian troops and Iranian-backed militias have made huge strides in Aleppo, with rebels boxed into a small area. Russia is an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and has vetoed several resolutions attempting to stop the violence. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Monday the proposal did not recognize diplomatic efforts with the United States, and that's why it was vetoed. U.S. Deputy Ambassador Michele Sison called that a "made-up alibi," adding, "We will not let Russia string along the Security Council while waiting for a compromise that never seems to come."

Over the past few weeks, more than 500 civilians have been killed in Aleppo. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said at least 50,000 residents fled the rebel-held area of Aleppo last week, with tens of thousands remaining trapped. The fighting continued Monday in the Old City, with heavy bombing in the al-Zubdiyah neighborhood. As the rebels lose ground, The Washington Post reports they have two options — stay in Aleppo, where they will almost certainly be defeated, or go to the neighboring province of Idlib, a hub of the armed opposition. Catherine Garcia

5:38 p.m. ET
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On Monday, the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense was named the winner of the South American cup, after many of its players were killed in a plane crash last week. The Chapecoense team was en route to its final match against Medellin's Atletico Nacional team when the plane went down Monday, killing more than 70 people, including 19 of the Brazilian team's players.

The South American Football Confederation's announcement Monday followed a letter sent by Atletico Nacional on Nov. 30 requesting the rival team be named champion "as a laurel honoring their great loss and as a posthumous homage to the victims of the fatal accident that our sport is still mourning."

Brazil's other top club soccer teams have also reached out in the wake of the tragedy. Players have offered to play for the Chapecoense team and clubs have requested the team be "safeguarded from relegation from the top flight for the next three seasons," The Guardian reported.

Only three members of the team survived the crash. Though authorities have confirmed the plane had run out of fuel when it crashed, the incident remains under investigation. Becca Stanek

4:54 p.m. ET

Stephen Moore, economic adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, couldn't care less about what China thinks. In an interview on the Chicago-based Big John and Ray radio show, Moore applauded Trump's controversial phone call with Taiwan on Friday — even if it does rock the boat on U.S. relations with China. "I love the fact that Trump did that," Moore said. "Too many mamby-pamby people in the foreign policy shop are saying, 'Oh my gosh we can't do this, we might insult the Chinese.' I don't care if we insult the Chinese!"

When Trump spoke with Taiwan's president, he broke with the decades-long U.S. policy against officially recognizing Taiwan's government as an entity separate from China's governing body. Beijing considers Taiwan to be a province of the mainland. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest credited the One-China policy with "preserving peace and stability in the Strait" and argued the policy benefits both the U.S. and Taiwan — especially as China is projected to overtake the U.S. as the world's largest economy by 2018.

But Moore seemed to suggest Trump's support of Taiwan is what would really be beneficial. "Taiwan is our ally," Moore said. "That is a country that we have backed because they believe in freedom. We ought to back our ally, and if China doesn't like it, screw 'em."

Catch the rest of Moore's interview below. Becca Stanek

4:14 p.m. ET

The case against Michael Slager, the former North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer who shot Walter Scott, ended in a mistrial Monday after the jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision. Slager, who is white, was charged with murder after a video surfaced of him shooting Scott, a black man, in the back multiple times as Scott ran away after Slager pulled him over for a broken taillight in April 2015.

Judge Clifton Newman made the declaration after 22 hours of deliberation by the jury. Three days ago, the jury revealed it was just one vote away from handing over a guilty verdict. The outlying juror had maintained in a statement that he would not change his vote:

It is not yet clear whether prosecutors will retry Slager. Becca Stanek

3:23 p.m. ET

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) lashed out at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday for criticizing President-elect Donald Trump's choice of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson for secretary of Housing and Urban Development:

Pelosi wasn't the only Democrat to suggest Carson — who has himself admitted he may not be qualified to lead a government agency — lacks the experience to oversee a Cabinet department with a budget of $47 billion. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said Monday that Trump's selection of someone "woefully unqualified" in Carson to head the department suggests he "has no interest in protecting American homeowners from Wall Street abuses." "Mr. Trump said during the campaign he would support working-class Americans, but his appointments make it clear he intends nothing of the sort," Cummings said.

Though Carson has no prior government experience, The New York Times reported he has said he is "prepared to lead the agency because he grew up 'in the inner city' and because as a physician in Baltimore he has 'dealt with a lot of patients from that area.'" Becca Stanek

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