Officially called "The Ministry of Information Policy," Mashable reports the Ukraine government has established a department that critics are calling the 'Ministry of Truth' in a dystopian reference to George Orwell's 1984 (apparent instruction manual). Run by a close ally of President Poroshenko's close ally, while its main objective appears to be confronting Russia’s formidable propaganda machine, the Ministry is likely to also restrict free speech and inhibit journalists' work - particularly in war-torn eastern Ukraine, according to observers.
It appears not all the government members approve of the new foreign-born members of the Ukraine parliament... as this fight just broke out...
It has been centuries since the Portuguese last dominated the world's seaways, but in glancing over recent headlines one would be forgiven for thinking that their pirates are still running around. With the economy still reeling from the effects of the devastating financial crisis in 2010-11, Portugal has been rocked by a series of corruption scandals which go to the very core of the political and financial establishments. Portugal's economic divergence relative to Europe’s core is striking; it has even been overtaken by an average of the newcomers that joined the European Union in 2004, many of which are former communist countries. This in spite of Portugal receiving billions in structural reform funds from Brussels for almost three decades now – a process which is still ongoing. So how did this significant underperformance come about?
Switzerland’s ‘Save our Swiss Gold’ referendum was convincingly rejected yesterday by the Swiss electorate following an aggressive anti-gold campaign in recent weeks that had been closely watched both in Switzerland and abroad.
Unusually, it involved the Swiss National Bank (SNB) very actively, and ultimately successfully, trying to convince the electorate along with the main political parties to return a ‘no’ vote.
The correlation between gold and the national debt was clear for 13 years. It made perfect sense in a free market. You can’t print more gold. It is a relatively scarce metal that has represented wealth for centuries. Fiat currency can be printed at will by corrupt bankers and politicians. Every paper currency ever created eventually reached its intrinsic value of ZERO, as human beings always take the easy way in attempting to create wealth. So what happened in 2013?
In the case of a "yes" vote, gold prices are likely to surge. Analysts do not believe a yes vote is possible. However, analysts have got the mood of the people wrong in many referendums both in Switzerland and throughout Europe in recent years.
A “YES” vote for the gold referendum is a first step towards redressing the imbalance that exists between the SNB and the people of Switzerland. A “YES” vote will begin a process to restore restraint, accountability, and transparency on an institution that took advantage of the removal of its previous gold holding constraint already once before to explode its balance sheet, reinvent itself as a hedge fund, and significantly expand into areas of policy far beyond its original remit. Central banks should be lenders of last resort and systemic regulators. In a direct democracy, decisions regarding taxation, membership in trade / political unions, and the autonomy of the national currency should be determined by popular vote not decreed or circumvented by central bank edict.
"In a tense confrontation with President Obama’s closest adviser on Thursday, a group of Senate Democrats accused the White House of trying to censor significant details in a voluminous report on the use of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency."
Senate leaders failed to get the 60 votes needed to advance The USA Freedom Act - which would have limited the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone records - and as Bloomberg reports, it's unlikely a new version can be drafted for another vote before the congressional term expires this year. The 58-42 vote to move the measure forward came mostly along party lines as Senator Saxby Chambliss - the top Republican on the intelligence committee - rambling that the bill "eliminates tools critical to the intelligence community’s ability to prevent terrorist attacks, and its adoption would greatly degrade our ability to fight domestic terrorism in particular." In other words - it's for own good, now shut up!
"Back in the heyday of the old Soviet Union, a phrase evolved to describe gullible western intellectuals who came to visit Russia and failed to notice the human and other costs of building a communist utopia. The phrase was “useful idiots” and it applied to a good many people who should have known better. I now propose a new, analogous term more appropriate for the age in which we live: useful hypocrites. That’s you and me, folks, and it’s how the masters of the digital universe see us. And they have pretty good reasons for seeing us that way."
Despite the promise of increased transparency, if you felt that deciphering Fed policy (other than uber-dovish, lower-for-longer, willing-to-wait, BTFD) became more and more confusing as the last few years progressed, you would not be alone. In fact, the complexity of the Fed's statements (not just the wordcount which we have noted numerous times) has surged from "Secondary School" reading level throughout Greenspan's era to "Post-Grad" comprehension at the peak of Bernanke's reign. Yellen, so far, has reverted modestly. As The Economist notes, this increased baffle-em-with-bullshit "Fedspeak" complexity is very reminiscent of the George Orwell's 1984-esque "oldspeak" or "doublespeak" used to keep a quiescent public bemused.
"Barack Obama's not a stupid man, okay?" Gruber notes, adding that those pushing the bill took part in an "exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter," taking advantage of voters' "stupidity" to create a law that would ultimately be good for them. "If you made it explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed, OK?"
As expected, the stench in market rigging, be it Libor, FX, gold or anything else, goes to the very top...
Overall, CPI’s are used to index payments on over $10 trillion in liabilities. Any underestimation of CPI benefits the federal government at the expense of the taxpayer and amounts to a backdoor default on its financial obligations. Please understand this could be deliberate or the result of dubious econometric methods. Using a bad model is like using a random number generator as a compass. To get an idea of the sums of money involved, for every 1% of CPI underestimation the federal government saves $8.4 billion on social security payments alone. The lack of transparency regarding quality adjustments (and their perceived complexity) provides a perfect smoke-screen for covert debt management through CPI under-reporting.
Having exposed the arrogance and self-admitted deception that was used to get the healthcare law past the "stupidity of American voters," it seems ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber regrets his comments... As The Daily Caller reports, during an interview with MSNBC, Gruber explained he "was speaking off the cuff and basically spoke inappropriately," adding, "I regret having made those comments." We suspect what he means is "I regret being caught saying those comments."