Vladimir Putin Denies Stealing NFL Ring

Jun 17, 2013, 11:58 am EST

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin is dismissing reports that the former-KGB-operative-turned-nationalist-politician swiped an expensive ring almost a decade ago.

According to Robert Kraft, who owns the New England Patriots, the Russian leader made off one of the team’s Super Bowl rings during a 2005 meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia. After Putin expressed interest in the ring, Kraft says he allowed him to put it on his finger. Putin then pocketed the ring — and accompanied by security — left the meeting, the Washington Post notes.

The ring featured 124 diamonds and is valued at $25,000. Read 

Fed’s June Meeting Takes on Critical Importance

Jun 16, 2013, 8:00 am EST

The Federal Reserve meets next week, and this meeting will be a biggie. I’d love to be a fly on the wall (and maybe NSA will have some flies on duty), but the minutes from the meeting won’t be released for another three weeks.

We’re at an interesting time for the market because normally, the jobs reports and Fed policy statements are by far the most important economic events. But now, I’d say the release of the minutes of the Fed meetings has taken center stage.

Why’s that? It’s because investors are on the lookout for any sign that the Fed is going to wind up their massive bond-buying program. The stock market has clearly been aided by the Fed’s bond purchases. Heck, the Fed even said that was one of their intentions. But I think some investors believe the entire rally has been due to the Fed’s pulling the bull along. That’s a giant overstatement. But you don’t have to go far on Wall Street to find folks who think: no Fed help, then sell everything you got. They’re wrong, but they can cause us headaches. Read 

What’s In the $1 Trillion Farm Bill?

Jun 11, 2013, 11:42 am EST
What’s In the $1 Trillion Farm Bill?

Last night, the Senate passed a new farm bill that the Congressional Budget Office estimates will cost taxpayers $955 billion over the next 10 years.

The debate is now moving to the House, where the bill is slightly difference and The NY Times reports that the farm bill “faces a much tougher road” there.

Regardless, let’s take a look at just what’s behind this nearly $1 trillion piece of legislation. The bill will: Read 

Bachman Has Not Ruled Out 2016 Presidential Run

Jun 9, 2013, 7:45 pm EST
Bachman Has Not Ruled Out 2016 Presidential Run

Appearing on News Corp.‘s (NWSA) Fox News Channel, Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann said that she didn’t plan to abandon politics and hinted that she might run for another office.

Bachmann told Sean Hannity, “I’m not going away.” She said that she hadn’t made any specific decisions about what to do when her current term expires, but indicated that she was seeking a “different perch,” the Washington Post noted.

When asked if she would run for office again, Bachmann said, “that could happen.” She admitted that running for the White House in 2016 wasn’t her “number one item,” but said that she would consider all options Read 

Illinois Debt Dinged Up in Game of ‘Kick the Pension Can’

Jun 7, 2013, 12:50 pm EST

With apologies to Detroit’s $15.7 billion long-term debt, and the budget problems in California that led Stockton to become the largest U.S. city ever to file bankruptcy, Illinois might be in the worst financial shape of any city or state in the country.

The issue is Illinois has racked up nearly $100 billion — yes, with a “B” — in unfunded state employee pension liabilities.

As a result, Fitch downgraded the state’s already-lowest-in-the-nation credit rating even further Monday. Moody’s followed suit Thursday, also citing its belief that nothing will change on the pension front anytime soon. These downgrades come days after the state legislature adjourned for the summer without addressing the unpaid obligations it owes, though the situation has become so dire, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has called the state Congress back for a June 19 special session. Read 

Surprise! The Government Is Spying on Your Online Accounts

Jun 7, 2013, 9:17 am EST

A U.S. government surveillance agency has gained unprecedented access to Americans’ digital communications.

Under a program called PRISM, the National Security Agency (NSA) has been able to compile data on virtually every bit of electronic communications conducted by U.S. citizens. The revelations are found in a classified PowerPoint presentation leaked to the U.K.’s Guardian. According to the document, data is collected “directly from the servers” of leading digital services providers.

Included in the data available to the NSA is email content, Internet search histories, videos and photos shared online, chat conversations and file uploads and downloads. Disclosure of the PRISM program is likely to renew debate over measures found in the Patriot Act, passed by Congress in the wake of the 9/11 attacks that broadened government surveillance powers. It will also likely spur a reappraisal of the FISA Amendment Act, which extended the governments powers, adopted last year over vocal objections from some lawmakers. Read 

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