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Markets’ Turmoil: Institutional Bank Runs – Kelly Thomas Killing & the New Media – Fast and Furious Scandal Grows

September 22, 2011

Apocalypse Now? Markets Tumble as Europe Approaches “Tipping Point”

Comment: Many on the street are calling for more bailouts or money printing to temporarily fix the problems the bankers created.  Obviously, those who strive for liberty are for fundamental reform of the financial system, which does not include subsidizing the losses of the rich.  The following video is a snapshot of the turmoil under the surface.  Notice the words, ‘institutional run on the banks.’

By Aaron Task | Daily Ticker – 4 hours ago

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Watch the video

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Global stocks and commodities tumbled Thursday amid a string of disappointing economic reports and fears of meltdown in Europe’s banking system.

“The rapidly burning fuse is in the European banking system, particularly in France, and Europe is getting very close to yet another tipping point,” PIMCO’s Mohamed El-Erian writes in The Financial Times, which separately reports executives of BNP Paribas plan to tour the Middle East in an effort to raise capital this week.

Amid acute concern over French banks, the CAC 40 plummeted more-than 5% intraday in Paris Thursday before stabilizing a bit. Major bourses across Europe were down more-than 4.5% in recent trading and the price of credit default swaps on European corporate and sovereign debts were surging; the price of default insurance on German and French sovereign debt hit record levels, Bloomberg reports.

In recent trading, the Dow was down 283 points, or 2.5%, while commodities such as gold and oil were falling sharply as the dollar rallied vs. the euro. (Update: As of 12 p.m. ET, the Dow was down nearly 400 points, or 3.6%, at 10,728 while the S&P was off 3.3%.)

In addition to fears of a European banking crisis, global markets were hammered by weaker than expected manufacturing data in Europe — which showed contraction for the first time in 26 months — and China, as well as a rise in U.S. jobless claims.

“A recession is at this point unavoidable,” writes NYU Professor Nouriel Roubini via Twitter. “Only issue now: Will it be a mild G7 recession or a severe recession plus global financial crisis as bad or even worse than the 2008-09 one?” (See: Shades of 2008: A Greek Default Won’t Be ‘Contained’, John Mauldin Says)

As Henry and I discuss in the accompanying video, the surprising thing is that anyone is surprised this is happening. The Greek debt crisis has been long in the making and European policymakers have had more-than ample opportunity to address the resulting problems among EU banks.

There are reasonable solutions to address the crisis, including the so-called “Swedish Solution” where banks are forced to take major write-downs before getting a capital injection. Alternative, Europe could adopt a TARP-style program to provide a capital cushion for banks ahead of an inevitable Greek default. Neither program is perfect but either beats doing nothing, which appears to be the plan in Europe right now.

Literally and figuratively, EU policymakers are fiddling while Rome burns.

On the other side of the Atlantic, some traders are apparently disappointed with Ben Bernanke’s Fed for not doing more yesterday. But there are limits to what monetary policy can do, as former Fed governor Mark Olson explains. (See: Bernanke Can’t Save the Economy: Congress Needs to Step Up, Says Former Fed Gov. Mark Olson)

Plus, Bernanke would be pilloried if the Fed had launched a $1 trillion QE3 program or some other outsized plan this week. From where I’m sitting, Bernanke gets an “A” for effort and looks good compared with our dysfunctional Congress and, especially, Europe’s disastrous policymakers.

Aaron Task is the host of The Daily Ticker. You can follow him on Twitter at @atask or email him at altask@yahoo.com

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Cops Vs. Cameras: The Killing of Kelly Thomas & The Power of New Media

| September 21, 2011

This video includes graphic images. Viewer discretion is advised.

The autopsy results from the death of Kelly Thomas, a schizophrenic drifter who was allegedy beaten to death by Fullerton, California police will be announced today by Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. Rackauckas will also announce whether he will file charges against the officers involved in Thomas’ death, following the office’s investigation. The confrontation with police took place at a municipal bus station on July 5, with Thomas dying in the hospital five days later. This press conference comes weeks after the Fullerton police  refused to answer questions about the case.

Regardless of today’s announcements, Thomas’ death  is a case study of how ubiquitous phones with cameras and the Internet are transferring power from the government, police, and the media to the masses. Images and word of the beating spread not because of official communications but by viral cell phone video of the incident and a horrific hospital photo taken by his father of Thomas in a coma.

We already know how influential citizen video can be from the 1991 Rodney King beating in Los Angeles. Now that practically everyone has a camera with them on their cell phone or other device, says Michael German, policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, it is increasingly difficult for authorities to dictate the flow of information.

“Technology has changed so much that we now carry cameras and recorders on our very person everywhere we go so it is very easy to immediately pull them up and take a video of whatever is happening,” says German.

That is how the Kelly Thomas video was recorded, but it didn’t find its way to the nightly news right away like the Rodney King beating. Ron Thomas, Kelly Thomas’ father, told Reason.tv that after initial interest, the media stopped covering the story.

“Nothing was going on, I tried contacting everybody, nobody cared to do anything,” said Ron Thomas. “So, I released the picture of my son [in his hospital bed] and that got everybody’s attention. When the cell phone video came out, I released that. The audio had their attention again. You put together the picture with the sound of what’s happening is very, very compelling.”

Those images came after the Fullerton police department decided not to release any information, including the names of the officers or even whether Kelly Thomas had a Taser applied to him, a detail that is heard in the video.

Jarrett Lovell, a criminologist at California State University, Fullerton, says the fact Ron Thomas was able to release information before the Fullerton police department‘s public information officer, Sgt. Andrew Goodrich, underscores a shift in power away from authority to citizens. “That the victim’s father, Ron Thomas, was able to release public information before the public information officer from the Fullerton department shows this shift in political power at the local level from police to the citizenry,” says Lovell. “Citizens can be the media themselves.”

Lovell has written about the role of public information in his book Good Cop/Bad Cop: Mass media and the cycle of police reform, and points out that the Kelly Thomas case seems to be a case study for what public information officers and what law enforcement agencies, “should not do.” He says that because the Fullerton police department has not gone public with the facts of the case or released the names of the officers, it looks like they have something to hide. “Public information is essential to keep check on government,” says Lovell.

After the photo and video were released, the Fullerton community reacted in outrage at city council meetings and at protests outside the Fullerton police department. Whatever charges are filed (or not) today, the death of Kelly Thomas will remain an example of how new media is changing the old guard.

Written and produced by Paul Detrick, who also narrates. Camera by Detrick, Alex Manning, and Zach Weissmueller. Special thanks to Ron Thomas.

About 8 minutes.

Go to Reason.tv for downloadable versions of this video. Subscribe to Reason.tv’s YouTube Channel for automatic updates when new content is posted.

Related videos:

You’re Killing Me: Was a police-related jailhouse death an accident or a homicide?, August 11, 2011

The Killing of Allen Kephart: How the police lost the trust of a law-and-order town, July 5, 2011.

The Government’s War on Cameras, May 26, 2011.

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Fast and Furious Scandal Grows

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Written by Bruce Walker   –   New American
Thursday, 22 September 2011 09:43
Congressman Darrell Issa(R-Calif., left), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is not impressed with the explanations given by Attorney General Eric Holder and other Department of Justice spokesmen about Operation Fast and Furious — the gun-walker scandal in which ATF officials oversaw the transfer of 2,000 weapons across the border to brutal Mexican drug cartels, mainly the Sinaloa group. He is calling for a formal review by someone outside the government:We’d like to have a true special prosecutor, particular when it’s obvious if Eric Holder didn’t know, it’s because he didn’t want to know or because he wasn’t doing his job…We’d like to know who did know and why they didn’t brief the attorney general.Holder in May said that he did not know when he first heard about the operation. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claimed that she did not know about the operation until after some weapons sold by federal officers to Mexican drug cartels were found to have been used to murder Border Patrol agents. The sales were out of the Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (still known as ATF) in collaboration with the FBI. Napolitano served as Governor of Arizona before taking her federal position. FBI Director Robert Mueller also professed ignorance of the operation. Issa responded to those statements:

So, one of our questions is, why wouldn’t you have known? When was it appropriate for you to be briefed on this and who was keeping it from you? And that becomes the next opportunity with Secretary Napolitano or Eric Holder. One of our questions is: Where do you spend your days and why aren’t you briefed on something like this?… People are picking their words very carefully.

Certainly there are FBI individuals that knew what the director did not know. Certainly there are Homeland Security briefings in which there should have been more. … One of the problems was this is what was called an OCDEFT operation, which means the FBI was an active part of it. Joint funding was used. So, if one were to say, did DEA know, did the FBI know, the answer is yes. Did the director know? I take him at his word — the answer is no.

The Phoenix ATF office illegally sold more than 2,000 firearms under the program with the supposed intention of tracking those weapons to Mexican drug cartels. The reaction of the federal government to the subsequent scandal was to reassign ATF Director Kenneth Melson and to fire the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. Issa has expressed doubt that the Department of Justice will be more aggressive in pursuing possible wrongdoing by higher ranking officials in that agency. Interestingly, other ATF officials involved in Fast and Furious were actually promoted after the incident, including William McMahon, William Newell, and David Voth, who oversaw the operation in the Phoenix office.

In Fast and Furious, ATF agents were specifically forbidden from either interfering with the illegal sales of firearms, intercepting firearms smugglers, or retrieving illegally sold weapons. If Holder and Napolitano have hidden their knowledge of the operation in sworn statements to Congress, whether or not the original operation was legal or not, their perjured testimony would be a crime for which they could be indicted.

Andre Howard, owner of Lone Wolf Trading Company, the gun store which sold many of the weapons for the Fast and Furious operation, recently revealed through his attorney, Larry Gaydos, that he made tapes of his conversations with ATF agents after he began to suspect that they were lying to him. Gaydos told Fox News:

Andre was acting under the direct supervision of the Department of Justice and ATF. And he thought he was making a difference and that these people were being arrested and there were going to be indictments and that there were going to be prosecutions. He is appalled at the position being taken by the Department of Justice and the lack of candor and lack of cooperation with Congress.

ATF agent Larry Alt has also come forward to reveal that because he and another agent, John Dodson, opposed Fast and Furious, they were both reassigned to unattractive jobs:

We were transferred from the group. We were placed in positions away from the investigation itself, denied access to the investigation. I would view that as a measure of control and if your want to call it a cover up, that would be an accurate statement.

A growing number of observers believe that there is more than enough questionable behavior and dubious sworn statements involved with Fast and Furious to merit the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the operation. And now House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa has publicly called for such a move.

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