Thursday, September 8, 2011

German Court Upholds Euro Bailouts, But With A Catch

President of the German Constitutional Court Andreas Vosskuhle (L) pronounces judgment on euro bailouts at the German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe Sep. 7, 2011.
Yes to the first bailout of Greece, but little else.
(Reuters) - Germany's top court handed the country's parliament a greater say over euro zone bailouts on Wednesday, in a closely-watched ruling that could hamper Berlin's ability to act swiftly to counter a debt crisis that has plagued the currency bloc for two years.
The Constitutional Court in the southern city of Karlsruhe rejected, as expected, a series of lawsuits aimed at blocking German participation in emergency loan packages. Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed that decision as validation of her much-criticized euro zone policy.
But the court also said her government must get approval from parliament's budget committee before granting such aid and appeared to rule out more radical solutions floated by Germany's European partners for solving the crisis, such as joint euro zone bonds.
"This was a very tight decision. But it should not be mistakenly interpreted as a constitutional blank check authorizing further rescue measures," the chief judge Andreas Vosskuhle told plaintiffs, government officials and members of parliament in the courtroom.
The euro briefly rose against the dollar in response.
"Today's ruling should bring some relief to financial markets as a total chaos scenario has been avoided, but it should not lead to euphoria," said Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING.
Continue reading...

Big Banks To Declare War On Fannie, Freddie Over Lawsuit

A rumor published by Politico yesterday about big banks declaring war on the FHFA and their Democratic supporters:
  • BANKS CONSIDER TOTAL WAR - M.M. hears that instead of contemplating settlements of the FHFA mortgage-backed securities lawsuits, big banks and their attorneys are more likely to pursue what insiders describe as an all out war strategy in which they go after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (and by default their Democratic supporters) in a scorched earth strategy to show the GSE’s took an active role in creating the very securities they are now suing the banks over.

Gold And Reality Of Inflation - Kerry Lutz - Interview with Peter Schiff - September 7, 2011

Choke Therapy: 'Germany must quit eurozone to end debt crisis'

Alt Media unstoppable now

Bankruptcy protection is Saab's last hope

Giuliani Tells Don Imus: 'I Wouldn't Lock Up Jamie Dimon, Huge Wall Street Bonuses Are Wonderful, They Helped Me Balance My Bloated Budget'

Watch Video

Video - Rudy Giuliani With Don Imus - January 12, 2011
Local governments are bloated and need to shrink.  Stupid Giuliani is part of the spending machine that grips politicians and is destroying the fiscal sanity of this country.
From Think Progress
The reality that banks aren’t “taking immediate steps to reduce bonuses substantially” led former Citigroup CEO John Reed to slam the banks for learning nothing from the financial crisis:
Even some industry veterans warn that such paydays could further tarnish the financial industry’s sullied reputation. John S. Reed, a founder of Citigroup, said Wall Street would not fully regain the public’s trust until banks scaled back bonuses for good — something that, to many, seems a distant prospect.
  • “There is nothing I’ve seen that gives me the slightest feeling that these people have learned anything from the crisis,” Mr. Reed said. “They just don’t get it. They are off in a different world.”
But some prominent New Yorkers are defending Wall Street’s compensation packages. On Don Imus’ radio show this morning, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani declared that from his point of view giant Wall Street bonuses are “wonderful”:
GIULIANI: I have to tell you. You’re going to get annoyed. I have a different view of bonuses than you do.
GIULIANI: And this comes from my experience as mayor of New York. They balance my budget. They were wonderful from the point of view of getting the money you need to run New York City. Particularly when they were paid in cash rather than stock because in stock you don’t get the benefit until somebody sells the stock. And but when they get it in cash, all of a sudden a deficit can turn into a surplus. So, I mean, I have somewhat of a warped view of this because it used to help me balance by big 30, 40 billion dollar budget.
Giuliani added that the big banks “should do a better job of explaining their compensation system and they should do a better job of explaining what they contribute, which is really the life blood that makes our economy work.”
This isn’t the first time Giuliani has made this argument. About this time last year, he defended Wall Streets practices by saying that “one of the ways in which you determined New York City’s budget, tax revenues, was Wall Street bonuses.” He added that it has “a reverse effect on the economy, if you somehow take that bonus out of the economy. It really will create unemployment.”

"We have to just quit spending and allow the market to work" - Ron Paul on Freedom Watch 09/06/11

Obama 'to inject $300 bn' in bid to create jobs

AFP image

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Barack Obama will propose the injection of $300 billion into the sputtering US economy in a pivotal speech laying out his plan to create jobs, US media are reporting.

CNN, citing sources in Obama's Democratic Party, said the plan includes $300 billion in new spending and an equal amount of offsetting cuts, including slashing payroll taxes and extending unemployment insurance.

The Bloomberg news service said the injection would come in the form of tax cuts, infrastructure spending and direct aid to state and local governments.

It said Obama would call for offsetting the cost by raising tax revenues in later years as part of a long-term deficit reduction plan that will include spending and entitlement cuts.

Such a plan would likely face stiff resistance from Obama's Republican foes, who have adamantly rejected any new revenue-raising measures and insisted that both tax and spending cuts will generate jobs and reduce debt.

The new employment initiative Obama will announce to a rare joint session of Congress on Thursday is crucial both to jolting the economy back to life and to replenishing his faded political stock ahead of the 2012 election.

© AFP -- Published at Activist Post with license

Jesus Christ, Pirate

After reportedly feeding a crowd of five thousand with five loaves and two fishes, Jesus Christ of Nazareth was recently served with formal legal notice from industry trade associations, demanding that he cease and desist from what they charge is an illegal food-sharing operation under the terms of the Miracle Millennium Anti-Replication Act (MMAA).
Miracle-working rabbis like Mr. Christ, and their alleged property rights infringements, have been the center of controversy in recent years.  They’re the subject of a public education campaign by the Foodstuffs Producers Association of Galilee and Judea.  Loaves and fishes producers argue that unauthorized replication of food, since it deprives them of revenues to which they are entitled, amounts to stealing. Sympathetic rabbis in synagogues throughout Palestine are reading FPAGJ public service announcements, aimed at countering public perceptions that “everybody does it” and “it’s just a little thing,” to their flocks:  “Don’t bakers and fishermen deserve to be paid?”  Many Torah schools have adopted FPAGJ “anti-foodlifting” curricula.
In related news, the Wine Industry Association of Palestine has complained amid surfacing reports that Jesus, in another alleged act of illegal sharing, also replicated wine at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee.
Physicians’ licensing boards, likewise, point to alleged eyewitness accounts of Jesus practicing medicine without a license.  This unauthorized medical practice, according to widespread reports, has extended to lepers, the lame, the halt, the blind, a man with a palsied hand, a woman with an issue of blood, and assorted victims of demonic possession.  The medical industry denounces Jesus’ actions as unfair competition.  According to a spokesman for the Galilean Medical Association, “it’s unfair to expect a licensed physician who spent years as an apprentice and who has to cover the overhead from office space to compete with some carpenter who just waves his hands around and heals people for free.”
Although the Embalmers’ Guild has also complained of rumored resurrections of the dead, legal experts say there is no actual statute defining that particular activity as a criminal offense.
On the other side, a small but growing movement of gustatory property opponents takes issue with the “piracy” label. They argue that copying food, as an inherently non-rivalrous activity, isn’t theft; because the newly replicated food is created ex nihilo, nobody else’s stock of food is diminished.  Fisherman Simon Bar Jonah of Galilee and his brother Andrew agree. “Instead of trying to suppress competition, the fishing industry should replace its archaic business model. Opportunities are out there for anyone willing to innovate. We haven’t lost a denarius because of Jesus’ food-sharing.”
But authorities aren’t buying it. Pontius Pilate, Procurator of Judea, recently announced plans to crack down on gustatory property pirates like Jesus. “If you think I’m going to wash my hands of this Jesus guy, God love him, think again. Replicating loaves, fishes and wine is stealing, just the same as a smash-and-grab at Macy’s. This is a big effing deal.”
Next week:  Johann Gutenberg, unauthorized book-sharer.

Rick Perry AGREES with Obama: Open Borders for America!

Modern-day 'Robin Hood' held in Italy

Italian police have arrested a man they described as a "modern Robin Hood", who carried out a series of crimes to give money to the poor.
Pasquale D'Angelo, 37, used a toy gun to hold up a branch of the Banca Nazionale di Lavoro in Rimini on Thursday morning.
He made off with €3,500 (£2,640), which he took to a nearby bar and started distributing among the poorer customers.
Then he visited a butcher's shop, a fruit stand and a hairdresser's, giving the money away.
Finally, he hailed a taxi to take him to a church, but was apprehended.
Nine days earlier, D'Angelo relieved the Cassa di Risparmio di Forli bank of around £1,900 and gave the money to tramps.
He is in prison in Rimini, after choosing to remain silent before a judge.
Luca Greco, his lawyer, has requested a psychiatric assessment of his client.
For the past two years D'Angelo has worked as a volunteer at a religious organisation in Rimini.
Members of the charity told local newspapers that he was a "very good and altruistic man".
However, they noted that his behaviour had become erratic following the death of his mother in January.

Government to Sue Banks - Peter Schiff

Mahdi Nazemroaya Destroying Libyan Culture

Sirte in Libya Sounds Like Gaza But Worse

Texas Wildfires and Smoke Alarms

Bastrop Fire September 6, 2011
Bastrop Fire Map courtesy of
The media coverage of the wildfires raging through Texas cannot emphasize enough the importance of being prepared for housefires and blazes. I spoke with a customer on Saturday who called about his proximity to the fires in Texas and the lack of water as a resource because of the drought. We are mindful of those who are suffering as a result of such fires.
As of today (09/06/11), thousands of people have been evacuated and reports of over 1,000 houses have been lost due to fire.
Check out this video which you can see on YouTube:
Today’s post includes life-saving and surprisingly simply information about residential smoke alarms. NOTICE- Smoke alarms and detectors are NOT exact synonyms. The International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) enlightens us perfectly:
“Smoke alarms are the devices typically installed in residential occupancies. These devices combine a smoke detector with a local notification appliance [smoke alarm]. When activated, smoke alarms emit an audible alarm to notify occupants of the presence of smoke.
Smoke detectors differ from smoke alarms in that they do not include a local notification appliance…” Fire Detection and Suppression Systems, 4th. edition, p.25
Here is some more great and simple information which is calculated to save lives as well as property:
Why should I have a working smoke alarm?
A properly installed and maintained smoke alarm is the only thing in your home that can alert you and your family to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whether you’re awake or asleep, a working smoke alarm is constantly on alert, scanning the air for fire and smoke.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2003-2006, more than 66 percent of home fire deaths occurred in homes without a working smoke alarm. A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire.
What types of smoke alarms are available?
There are many different brands of smoke alarms available on the market, but they fall under two basic types: ionization and photoelectric.
It cannot be stated definitively that one is better than the other in every fire situation that could arise in a residence. Because both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms are better at detecting distinctly different, yet potentially fatal fires, and because no one can predict what type of fire might start in a home, the USFA recommends that every residence and place where people sleep be equipped with:
  • Both ionization AND photoelectric smoke alarms, OR
  • dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors
In addition to the basic types of alarms, there are alarms made to meet the needs of people with hearing disabilities. These alarms may use strobe lights that flash and/or vibrate to assist in alerting those who are unable to hear standard smoke alarms when they sound.
What powers a smoke alarm?
Smoke alarms are powered by battery or they are hardwired into the home’s electrical system. If the smoke alarm is powered by battery, it runs on either a disposable 9-volt battery or a non-replaceable 10-year lithium (“long-life”) battery. A backup battery is usually present on hardwired alarms and may need to be replaced.
These batteries must be tested on a regular basis and, in most cases, should be replaced at least once each year (except for lithium batteries). See the Smoke Alarm Maintenance section for more information.
Are smoke alarms expensive?
Smoke alarms are not expensive and are worth the lives they can help save. Ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms cost between $6 and $20. Dual sensor smoke alarms cost between $24 and $40.
Some fire departments offer reduced price, or even free, smoke alarms. Contact your local fire department’s non-emergency phone number for more information.
Install smoke alarms in key areas of your home
Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement. Many fatal fires begin late at night or early in the morning, so the U.S. Fire Administration recommends installing smoke alarms both inside and outside of sleeping areas.
Since smoke and many deadly gases rise, installing your smoke alarms at the proper level will provide you with the earliest warning possible. Always follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
Some fire departments will install battery-operated smoke alarms in your home at no cost. Contact your local fire department’s non-emergency phone number for more information.
Hardwired smoke alarms should be installed by a qualified electrician.
Smoke alarm maintenance
Is your smoke alarm still working? Smoke alarms must be maintained! A smoke alarm with a dead or missing battery is the same as having no smoke alarm at all.
A smoke alarm only works when it is properly installed and maintained. Depending on how your smoke alarm is powered (9-volt, 10-year lithium, or hardwired), you’ll have to maintain it according to manufacturer’s instructions. General guidelines for smoke alarm maintenance:
Smoke alarm powered by a 9-volt battery
  • Test the alarm monthly.
  • Replace the batteries at least once per year.
  • The entire smoke alarm unit should be replaced every 8-10 years.
Smoke alarm powered by a 10-year lithium (or “long life”) battery
  • Test the alarm monthly.
  • Since you cannot (and should not) replace the lithium battery, the entire smoke alarm unit should be replaced according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Smoke alarm that is hardwired into the home’s electrical system
  • Test the alarm monthly.
  • The backup battery should be replaced at least once per year.
  • The entire smoke alarm unit should be replaced every 8-10 years.
Never disable a smoke alarm while cooking
A smoke alarm is just doing its job when it sounds while you’re cooking or taking a shower with lots of steam.
  • If a smoke alarm sounds while you’re cooking or taking a shower with lots of steam, do not remove the battery. You should:
  • Open a window or door and press the “hush” button,
  • Wave a towel at the alarm to clear the air, or
  • Move the entire alarm several feet away from the location.
Disabling a smoke alarm or removing the battery can be a deadly mistake.
State-by-State Residential Smoke Alarm Requirements
The USFA compiled state-by-state residential guidelines for smoke alarms. Families can find life-saving fire safety tips required or suggested by their very own state. The guidelines include instructions on the installation and maintenance of smoke alarms. The tips will help families do their part to protect themselves and the firefighters who protect their lives!
The “State-by-State Residential Smoke Alarm Requirements” is available for download from the Campaign Materials page and is also available on the free Toolkit disc. (English only)

Source: U.S. Fire Administration Website-Learn About Smoke Alarms

-The Berkey Guy

Letter From Tripoli - Carnage of the Innocent

Libya Amazing Oasis Ghadames - Leonor

Just Released Bernanke Letter Downplays U.S. Banks CDS Exposure To Euro Sovereign Debt

No copy of the letter is currently available - story just hit the wires about 10 minutes ago. Bernanke claims to have access to confidential information to back up his story.  We wonder if the Chairman has given any thought to the possibility that regulators are not aware of off-balance sheet exposures.  It wouldn't be the first time that the Federal Reserve would be in the dark about banks under their purview.  Repo 105s and Lehman comes quickly to mind.
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The exposure of U.S. banks to Greece, Ireland and Portugal is manageable and quite small, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told U.S. Senator Bob Corker in a letter written in July that was released Tuesday. The nearly $200 billion exposure the Bank for International Settlements has reported capture only one side of banks' credit-default swap exposure, Bernanke said. Confidential supervisory information and CDS data from the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp.'s trade information warehouse indicate that the exposures are "quite small."  Bernanke does note a sovereign credit event could affect a broad range of markets and financial institutions.

FHFA Bank Lawsuit Conference Call @ 2 PM

MEDIA ADVISORY: U.S. Rep. Brad Miller to hold conference call briefing for reporters on lawsuits filed by the U.S. Federal Housing Finance Agency against 17 of the largest banks over faulty mortgage loans which helped lead the nation into the housing crisis.
September 6, 2011
Miller has repeatedly called on Edward DeMarco, Acting Director of FHFA, to do everything in his power to recover these funds. The Congressman is available for a media briefing at 2 p.m. today to discuss what happened to prompt the lawsuits; what needs to happen next to fix the problem; and what it all means for the taxpayer.
When: Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Start time: 2:00pm (EST)
Dial-in number: 1-308-344-6400
Access Code: 150881#
The conference call, led by Congressman Brad Miller, is happening NOW.  I'm listening in and I can tell you that the US government won't be collecting anywhere near the $196 billion headline number named in the lawsuit.
FHFA Files a $196 Billion Lawsuit Against 17 Banks
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), as conservator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises), today filed lawsuits against 17 financial institutions, certain of their officers and various unaffiliated lead underwriters. The suits allege violations of federal securities laws and common law in the sale of residential private-label mortgage-backed securities (PLS) to the Enterprises.
Complaints have been filed against the following lead defendants, in alphabetical order:
1. Ally Financial Inc. f/k/a GMAC, LLC – $6 billion
2. Bank of America Corporation – $6 billion
3. Barclays Bank PLC – $4.9 billion
4. Citigroup, Inc. – $3.5 billion
5. Countrywide Financial Corporation -$26.6 billion
6. Credit Suisse Holdings (USA), Inc. – $14.1 billion
7. Deutsche Bank AG – $14.2 billion
8. First Horizon National Corporation – $883 million
9. General Electric Company – $549 million
10. Goldman Sachs & Co. – $11.1 billion
11. HSBC North America Holdings, Inc. – $6.2 billion
12. JPMorgan Chase & Co. – $33 billion
13. Merrill Lynch & Co. / First Franklin Financial Corp. – $24.8 billion
14. Morgan Stanley – $10.6 billion
15. Nomura Holding America Inc. – $2 billion
16. The Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC – $30.4 billion
17. Société Générale – $1.3 billion
These complaints were filed in federal or state court in New York or the federal court in Connecticut. The complaints seek damages and civil penalties under the Securities Act of 1933, similar in content to the complaint FHFA filed against UBS Americas, Inc. on July 27, 2011. In addition, each complaint seeks compensatory damages for negligent misrepresentation. Certain complaints also allege state securities law violations or common law fraud. [read full FHFA release]
You can read the suits filed against each individual bank here. For some more information read Bloomberg: BofA, JPMorgan Among 17 Banks Sued by U.S. for $196 Billion. Noticeably absent from the list of companies being sued is Wells Fargo.
DB here.  More color on the lawsuit follows.  The $196 billion number is purely a headline. Recovery amounts will be substantially less, likely 15-20% (based on the UBS lawsuit filed earlier this Summer).
  • An FHFA spokesman said the agency is seeking to recover some portion of the losses incurred in purchases of the securities. “Actual recoveries would be determined based on filings by the parties, evidence and judicial findings. At this time, it would be premature and potentially misleading to estimate what recoveries would be,” she said in an email.
Michael Stegman, director of policy and housing at the The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, said Bank of America and other big financial institutions facing other suits may be less likely to settle immediately with FHFA for fear it will impact their ability to reach a deal with other groups.
Large financial institutions are facing investor lawsuits over problem mortgages as well, though these investors want the big banks to repurchase problem loans they sold them before. FHFA is reportedly seeking reimbursement for losses on securities held by Fannie and Freddie.
“If the representations and warrants from one failed mortgage-backed security are the same as another MBS with the same kinds of loans, the first settlement will likely set a precedent for the other,” said Stegman.

9/11 Building 7 - Martin Noakes

Europe shares hit 2-yr closing low; Swiss stocks up

(Reuters) - European shares fell to their lowest close in more than two years on Tuesday, on worries that the euro zone debt crisis was deteriorating, with political discord in the region, and that major economies were headed for recession.
Banks exposed to the euro zone peripheral among the worst performers. The STOXX Europe 600 Banking Index fell 2.1 percent and hit a fresh 29-month low. French banks BNP Paribas and Societe Generale fell 5.2 and 6.3 percent respectively.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of top shares fell 0.7 percent to end the session unofficially at 904.07 points, its lowest close since July 2009.
However, Switzerland's share benchmark climbed 4.4 percent after the country's central bank set an exchange rate cap on its soaring franc to stave off a recession.
"We're still in the eye of the storm," said Richard Batty, strategist at Standard Life Investments, part of the Standard Life Group, which administers 196.8 billion ($314 billion) pounds of assets.
"Investors are concerned about the tier two economies, such as Italy, and its ability to get its budget through parliament, and come up with a fiscal consolidation plan to make its debt sustainable." (Reporting by Brian Gorman)

Hartmann: A French Revolution on Corps - off with their Corporate Heads!

Euro Zone Done? 'Collapse closer as politicians bargain'