Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sarkozy, Merkel to meet Greeks on Wednesday

(Reuters) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold an emergency meeting with Greece on Wednesday to push for a quick implementation of Athens' bailout deal, the "only solution" to its debt crisis, Sarkozy said on Tuesday.
Markets tumbled across Europe in response to the announcement by the Greek government to hold a referendum on the agreement which is expected to take place in a few weeks.
Last week's 130 billion-euro ($180 billion) bailout package had raised hopes a line could be drawn under banks' Greek losses and euro zone bonds could be sold to China and other investors.
"This announcement took the whole of Europe by surprise," Sarkozy said in a rare televised address on the steps of the Elysee palace in Paris.
"The plan ... is the only way to solve Greece's debt problem," he said after a lengthy meeting with his top ministers and the central bank governor to discuss the referendum decision.
Sarkozy said a hastily arranged meeting for Wednesday in the Riviera resort of Cannes with his German counterpart Angela Merkel, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, European Union and IMF officials would "examine the conditions under which the commitments made could be maintained."
Sarkozy, Merkel, Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, IMF chief Christine Lagarde and an ECB representative will first meet at 1730 local time (12:30 p.m. ET). They will then meet Papandreou and his finance minister at 2030 local time.
The meeting comes just before a Nov 3-4 gathering of G20 heads of states in Cannes and will attempt to reassure world powers that the euro zone can resolve its crisis.
After an earlier call with Merkel, Sarkozy's office said the two countries were "determined" to ensure, the full implementation of the October 27 deal in the quickest time frame.
Share prices of French banks and other lenders exposed to Greece and other weak euro zone countries slumped on Tuesday.
Societe Generale tumbled 16.2 percent and BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole fell more than 12 percent. They are among the most exposed to Greece through sovereign debt holdings and loans.
"We have just added fuel to the fire and we don't understand at all the decision of the Greek PM," said Marc Touati, chief economist at Assya Compagnie Financiere in Paris.
"If there is a referendum the 'no' will win. Greece is playing a suicidal game that could lead to its exit of the euro zone so there is fear on French banks, but also on (euro zone) states."
David Thesmar, professor of finance at business school HEC in Paris said the referendum decision made the scenario of a Greek exit from the euro zone more credible.
"I just hope that European politicians are preparing for such an eventuality," he said. "I fear that because of blindness and because of ideology they are refusing to conceive of it ... And that would really be a catastrophe, to not be ready for it."
The Greek government's decision brought a sharp rebuke from a former industry minister and close ally of Sarkozy within his UMP ruling party, Christian Estrosi, who called the move "totally irresponsible."
"When we are in a crisis situation and others want to help you it is insulting to try to save one's skin rather than to face one's responsibilities," said Estrosi.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who is seen as winning 10 percent of the vote in next year's presidential elections on a campaign for more protectionism and for France to leave the euro, said it was time for European leaders to come up with a "plan B" to prepare an exit from the euro before "catastrophe and panic" strikes.
"We tried to gain time at an exorbitant cost for the people knowing that the end was inevitable," Le Pen told i-Tele television.
"We now need to get round the table and prepare a concerted, intelligent plan to leave the euro with our European partners. This mad dash must end otherwise there will be revolt among European people."
(Additional reporting by Emmanuel Jarry and Lionel Laurent; Writing by John Irish; Editing by Jon Hemming)

White House calls for rapid action in Europe

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou
© AFP/File Louisa Gouliamaki

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House said Tuesday that chaos and uncertainty unleashed by Greek's shock call for a referendum on its debt deal showed the need for rapid implementation of a eurozone finance agreement.

But President Barack Obama's spokesman Jay Carney declined to comment directly on the wisdom of the decision by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, which left the Greek government reeling and markets in meltdown.

"The announcement he made, just reinforces the notion that... the Europeans... need to elaborate further and implement rapidly the decisions they made last week."

"It remains the case that the Europeans have the capacity to deal with this crisis, and they need to implement the very important decisions they made last week to provide a conclusive resolution to it," Carney said.

The EU deal, agreed last Thursday after marathon talks in Brussels included an agreement to write off 100 billion euros ($137 billion) of debt owed by Greece.

But the Athens government still has to implement a painful package of austerity measures to get its hands on bailout funds.

© AFP -- Published at Activist Post with license

Vet’s injuries from Occupy Oakland protest not caused by deputies, SF sheriff says

Three San Francisco sheriff’s deputies are being named on websites by activists for allegedly injuring an Iraq War veteran during the violent shutdown of the Occupy Oakland camp last week.
Scroll down to see videos of the incident.

Former Marine Scott Olsen suffered a skull fracture in the shutdown of the camp after it turned violent the night of Oct. 25 in downtown Oakland. More than 15 local public safety agencies were called in to assist the Oakland Police Department, including the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department.

Occupy activists and supporters claim to have identified at least three San Francisco deputies in video shot before and during the raid.

In the videos, which have been made available on YouTube, Olsen is shown standing stationary in military garb. After “flash-bang” grenades are fired from the police line, Olsen is shown lying immobile on the ground. He was thought to have been shot in the head by a projectile canister fired from a gun, although the video does not make that clear.

When other protesters rush to Olsen’s aid, another grenade is lobbed into the panicked gathering, presumably worsening his injuries. When he is carried away from the scene, Olsen appears critically injured but conscious. He was later put under sedation at a hospital, according to his roommate, Keith Shannon.

Protesters identified the three deputies based on preraid video that showed them from a closer and less chaotic standpoint — near enough to make their nametags visible.

The head of the union that represents sheriff’s deputies said activists circulated one deputy’s home address online. The union has requested it be removed.

The Sheriff’s Department said an internal investigation unit is reviewing the incident, but it’s unlikely the identified deputies caused Olsen’s injury. Spokeswoman Eileen Hirst said 35 of the 37 Sheriff’s Department personnel on site for the raid were not carrying projectiles, and the two who were equipped with them did not fire.

Hirst also said the department has a policy against deputies using weapons for which they are not trained, or borrowing weapons from other law enforcement during a raid situation.

Shannon, a friend and fellow soldier in the Iraq War, said Olsen is making strides in his recovery at an Oakland hospital, but remains unable to talk and communicates by writing.

Representatives of the Iraq Veterans Against the War activist group — of which Shannon and Olsen both support — said they also are attempting to find out who fired the round and lobbed the second canister.
The American Civil Liberties Union is calling for an investigation into whether excessive force was used in the raid in general.

ACLU attorney Linda Lye said on Monday the public records request is being expanded to the three participating sheriff’s departments.

“We don’t want a situation where agencies say, ‘Well, I didn’t do it, so it must have been someone else,’” Lye said.
The website has been launched to gather donations for Olsen, a 24-year-old Daly City resident.

Domino Effect? 'Debt unpayable, Greece to exit Euro mess'

Pelosi: ‘Yes’ Gov’t Should Shut-Down Non-Union Plant

Socialized "Capitalism" | THE PLAIN TRUTH by Judge Napolitano 10/31/11

GREECE - Collapse Of Government Is Imminent

Watch Video

CNBC Video - Michelle Caruson Cabrera reports from Greece.
The country that invented drama and democracy is not disappointing the world on either front. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Monday called for two high- stakes votes.
The first asks parliament to say by the end of this week whether it has confidence in his leadership. The second is a referendum in which Greek voters would approve or reject, possibly by year’s end, Europe’s latest debt-crisis workout.
The move blindsided European leaders on the eve of a global summit and rocked lawmakers in Papandreou’s party, some of whom are now calling for him to step down. The next day, stocks tumbled worldwide, the euro declined and Italian bonds plunged.
No doubt, Papandreou’s gambit is extremely risky. He has only a three-seat parliamentary majority. And the referendum, if rejected, could push Greece into default and out of the European Union and the single currency. A doomsday scenario could follow, including financial market mayhem, soaring sovereign borrowing costs and cascading bank failures. Europe and the U.S. could fall back into recession.
Still, it was the right thing to do. Greek citizens deserve a say on one of the most important matters in their lifetimes. Perhaps more important, the move could finally force Europe into the full reckoning required to solve its two-year-old sovereign- debt crisis.
Continue reading...

Bank forecloses on homeowner ... three years after his house destroyed by a hurricane

In one man's world, your house can be destroyed, you can continue to make its mortgage payments, yet it can still be foreclosed.
That's the situation for Brad Gana, a Texas man whose home was washed away in 2008 by Hurricane Ike who continued to make its mortgage payments, before the bank arrived, confiscating whatever items they could get.
'I was shocked when they said they were foreclosing on it,' Brad Gana told investigator Amy Davis, according to KPRC-TV.

Bank of America forecloses on Texas man's vacant lot after his house was destroyed by Hurricane Irene in 2008, despite making payments
'Shocked': Brad Gana says he paid all of his mortgage payments on time, despite no longer having a house to live in after a natural disaster, but his bank still foreclosed on him
Mr Gana was working overseas when the hurricane hit his neighborhood of Sea Brook, completely destroying his home.
But even then he says he never missed a single mortgage payment for his home, which no longer existed.
It was in fact left as a rumbled slab of concrete.
So when his bank contacted him, telling him they were foreclosing on him, despite payment he said he was making, he was stunned.
The suspected former house of Brad Gana, before it was destroyed by Hurricane Ike. Bank of America foreclosed on it even though it was destroyed.
Vanished: The suspected former-house of Brad Gana, shown by Google Images before it was destroyed by Hurricane Ike
'It wasn't until about 20 calls that someone said, 'We had a homeowner's policy on your home that you reside in, and your monthly payments have gone up,'' Mr Gana told KPRC.
Mr Gana says he first learned of the foreclosure just two days before he planned to sell his property.

Hiring an attorney to stop the procedure, which was successful, Bank of America still arrived at his property, removing any personal items that were available like his tools and collectibles, all of which are now gone.
Reached for comment, a representative with Bank of America sent an email to the investigator, Ms Davis, admitting that the bank had 'incorrectly placed insurance' on a home that no longer existed.

The representative said they will have to audit his account to correct any discrepancies.
Texas man Brad Gana says he made his mortgage payments on his home that was destroyed by Hurricane Irene in 2008, but it was still foreclosed
'Ruthless ... incompetency': The Texas homeowner returned to find his lot picked clean by his bank who accused him of inadequately paying them what he owed
A former home in Texas rests completely bare after Hurricane Irene ripped it apart in 2008. Despite this, the bank scheduled its foreclosure, despite the owner saying he made every one of his payments
Unoccupied insurance: The bank admitted to 'incorrectly placed insurance' on the vacant lot despite which they say they will audit to correct any discrepancies
'Bank of America is ruthless in their incompetency,' Mr Gana responded.
The representative with the bank said that they had tried to reach Mr Gana earlier on his homeowner's policy and changed mortgage amount, but all of their efforts mailed were returned. 
Mr Gana offers one argument to that: his mailbox was destroyed.
But either way, he says had provided the bank with an email address he could be reached at, as well as two phone numbers to where he was residing overseas and could be contacted.
Promising to work together with the unfortunate home owner, in an email to KPRC, a representative wrote:
'There were a number of factors that contributed to the issues that resulted in the actions that we took on Mr. Gana’s mortgage and property.
'We continue to research the incidents.
'We have contacted Mr. Gana and we will work with him directly to address his concerns.'
But this isn't the first case of misdiagnosed mortgages by the banking giant.
Marine One, with President Bush aboard, takes an aerial tour of the damage from Hurricane Ike near Galveston, Texas, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008.
National attention: Marine One carrying then-President Bush surveyed the damage delivered by Hurricane Ike in 2008 that swept 110 MPH winds across the shore
Port Arthur Police SWAT Commander Rodney Harrison helps guide a truck through flood waters during a search and rescue mission following Hurricane Ike, in Sabine Pass, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008
Astronomical damage: Ike's 110 mph winds caused more than $29 billion in damage and took the lives of at least 72 in the United States
A senior couple in Florida faced foreclosure earlier this summer after paying their mortgage one month too early and then using the wrong routing number in their following payment.
Sharon Bullington, 70, said the bank contacted her to say her and her husband had been cut out of their trial mortgage plan because of improper payments.
Instead of filing it the 'month in which it [was] due' in January, Mrs Bullington filed it in January, the bank penalized.
A second couple in Houston, Texas, was also under fear of foreclosure by the bank.
Brian and Khanklink Pyron were warned of their home's imminent loss, despite saying they had been current on their mortgage payments because of a technicality on the transfer of their home's title. 
The cause was a bankrupt company involved in their home's purchase, that never notified the family, despite their continuing payments to Bank of America which never reached their mortgage-holder.
'We did everything we were supposed to do,' Mr Pyron told MyFoxHouston.
'Nobody has communicated with us, notified us.
'We had been paying our mortgage and everything,' he asserted.

Read more:

DOW Jones Falls Over 300 Points Amid Greece Crisis

The DOW fell over 300 points Tuesday after a European bailout plan was almost overturned by a proposed Greek referendum.
MSNBC reports;
Analysts said if Greek voters reject the unpopular bailout, it would result in a “hard default” by Greece, causing bigger losses for banks and raising the threat of systemic risk.
Greek Premier George Papandreou shocked global markets late Monday by announcing that he will put the nation’s recent bailout deal through a referendum, potentially undoing last week’s long-awaited agreement by EU leaders.
Anti-Radiation Water Filters
The news slammed European stocks, particularly the region’s banks. The Dow Jones industrial average fell sharply at the start of trading and hit a mid-session low of down 321 points. As stocks tumbled, a widely-watched gauge of investor fear, the VIX index, jumped some 25 percent, chalking up its biggest daily gain since mid-August.
U.S. stocks briefly pared their losses after the leaders of Germany and France said they were determined to fully implement decisions made at the European Union Summit last week. Leaders of the big euro zone countries hastily arranged a crisis meeting with Papandreou on Wednesday in Cannes, a day before the start of a G20 summit.
We will see what the next few days bring in terms of the markets.

Thomas Sowell: Federal Reserve a 'Cancer'

BREAKING - MF Global Admits Using Client Money

This is not looking good for former New Jersey Senator and Governor, and previously Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine.  More than $700 million of supposedly safeguarded client funds were stolen by MF Global to support besieged trading positions.  Jon Corzine should go to prison.  If Corzine escapes without a Federal ID number and associated orange jumpsuit due to fundraising ties with Obama and Eric Holder, then the game is over.
The rule of law is dead.
The admission is here:
WASHINGTON (AP) — MF Global, the failed securities firm led by Jon Corzine, admitted using clients' money as its financial troubles mounted, a federal official says.
An MF Global executive admitted that to federal regulators in a phone call early Monday after regulators discovered money missing from clients' accounts, according to an official familiar with the conversation.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss an investigation by federal regulators.
Government rules require securities firms to keep clients' money and company money in separate accounts. Violations can result in civil penalties.
The investigation of MF Global Holdings Ltd. is preliminary. A formal investigation by the company's main regulator, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, requires a vote by its five commissioners.
It isn't clear whether the violations could lead to criminal charges.  At a news conference, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara would not comment on whether a criminal investigation is underway involving the revelations at MF Global.
Continue reading...
1. Where were the regulators? By the time the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suspended MF Global, it was clear the firm was over leveraged, with some reports saying the ratio was 80-to-1. Client money is missing. At the very least, bookkeeping at MF Global was sloppy. Regulators and accountants should have stopped the madness before this point. The company was told to boost capital in August — but it’s clear the bank’s exposure was far greater than anticipated.
2. Where is the money? At least $700 million in client money is missing. This is a cardinal sin in the world of investment banking. Client money cannot be borrowed or mixed with house money. Should the suspicions prove true, this will be more embarrassment.
3. Why did Jon Corzine, MF Global’s CEO, claim everything was OK, in the company’s waning days? The former Goldman CEO was quoted less than a week ago saying “Reflecting the stressed markets in the quarter, we deliberately chose to reduce overall market exposure in most principal trading activities and focused on preserving capital and liquidity.”

Papandreou Being Asked to Resign by His Own Party

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou faced calls from within his own party to step down on Tuesday after he threw his country's eurozone membership into jeoprady by calling for a referendum on a bailout package agreed to only last week, reports Reuters.
A leading lawmaker from Papandreou's socailist party resigned, while two others said that Greece needed a change of government and quick elections.
French and German officials were caught off gaurd by Papandreou's call for a referendum and expressed increduiltiy at the announcement.
"The Greek prime minister has taken this decision without talking it through with his European collegues," said Jean-Claude Juncker, chair of the eurozone finance ministers.