Monday, December 30, 2013

LEAKED Confession: Cesspool Of Greek-German Corruption




LEAKED Confession: Cesspool Of Greek-German Corruption
December 30th, 2013

http://investmentwatchblog.com/leaked-confession-cesspool-of-greek-german-corruption/

Wolf Richter www.testosteronepit.com  www.amazon.com/author/wolfrichter

Apparently, it has been impossible to sell Greece any weapons at all, not even a water pistol, without bribing officials at the Defense Ministry. Corruption is so pandemic that Transparency International awarded Greece once again the dubious honor of being the most corrupt country in the EU. For 2013, Greece ended up in 80th place of the 177 countries in the survey, same as China. But it takes two to tango.

And in holier-than-thou Germany, where exporting at any price is a state religion (with chart) regardless of who runs the show, the defense industry was allegedly eager to dance with Greece – supplying tanks, submarines, and other equipment that broke Greece didn’t need and couldn’t afford.

Now there’s a confession. After four days of grilling, investigating magistrates in Athens extracted it from Antonios Kantas, General Secretary for Procurement at the Defense Ministry between 1996 and 2002. He’d been arrested in mid-December after authorities found nearly €14 million in various accounts. In his 30-page testimony, elements of which have been leaked, he admitted having pocketed €15 million in bribes since 1989 – just this one guy!

But it was a community effort that stretched across party lines. He named names, euros, and dollars, implicating 17 Greek politicians and businessmen. They include former head of procurement Yiannis Sbokos, former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos – who, along with Sbokos, has already been condemned to years in the hoosegow for laundering the kickbacks he’d received in various arms deals – and his worthy successor, former Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou. And Kantas named the coddled weapons manufacturers in Germany.

Wells Fargo in $591 million Fannie Mae settlement





Dec. 30, 2013, 9:14 a.m. EST
Wells Fargo in $591 million Fannie Mae settlement

By Saabira Chaudhuri
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wells-fargo-pays-591-mln-in-fannie-mae-settlement-2013-12-30

Wells Fargo & Co. on Monday reached a $591 million deal with Fannie Mae to settle claims that it sold defective mortgages to the government-controlled home-loan financier.

Adjusted for credits related to previous repurchases, Wells Fargo will pay $541 million. As of the end of its third quarter, the largest mortgage lender in the U.S. had accrued for the cost of the settlement in full.

Wells Fargo said the deal resolves all of the potential buyback demands it had pertaining to loans sold to Fannie Mae that were originated before 2009.

While Fannie, and its smaller sibling Freddie Mac, don't make loans directly, they support housing markets by buying mortgages from banks and then selling them to investors as securities, providing guarantees. During the housing boom, Fannie and Freddie augmented their role in the housing market by purchasing privately issued securities as investments.

Fannie, and Freddie can force banks to buy back mortgages that don't conform to agreed-upon guidelines, and both companies have demanded that lenders repurchase billions in soured loans over the past four years.

The federal regulator for Fannie and Freddie has directed the firms to reduce repurchase demands outstanding by year-end.

The U.S. Treasury in 2008 rescued Fannie and Freddie as mortgage losses mounted. All told, the two received more than $150 billion in infusions to stay afloat. They have become highly profitable over the past year and are close to having paid as much to the U.S. in dividends as the government was forced to inject to stabilize the firms.

Wells Fargo's deal with Fannie comes after Deutsche Bank AG recently said it would pay $1.93 billion to settle a lawsuit filed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which controls Freddie and Fannie over mortgage securities the bank sold to the mortgage giants during last decade's U.S. housing bubble.

However Deutsche Bank's settlement doesn't resolve separate litigation filed earlier this year by Fannie and Freddie against it and other Wall Street firms over losses the mortgage giants allege they sustained from manipulation of interest rates.

In late November, Fifth Third Bancorp agreed to pay $25 million to Freddie Mac to settle claims that it sold soured mortgages to the agency. Other banks that have recently settled with Freddie or Fannie include SunTrust Banks Inc., Citigroup Inc.--and also on Monday, Flagstar Bancorp Inc.

Nick Timiraos contributed to this article.

Sun has 'flipped upside down' as new magnetic cycle begins




Video: Sun has 'flipped upside down' as new magnetic cycle begins

The sun’s magnetic field has fully reversed its polarity, marking the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24, which will be completed in 11 years time

TOMAS JIVANDA   Sunday 29 December 2013
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/video-sun-has-flipped-upside-down-as-new-magnetic-cycle-begins-9029378.html

The sun has "flipped upside down", with its north and south poles reversed to reach the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24, Nasa has said.

Now, the magnetic fields will once again started moving in opposite directions to begin the completion of the 22 year long process which will culminate in the poles switching once again.

"A reversal of the sun's magnetic field is, literally, a big event," said Nasa’s Dr. Tony Phillips.

"The domain of the sun's magnetic influence (also known as the 'heliosphere') extends billions of kilometers beyond Pluto. Changes to the field's polarity ripple all the way out to the Voyager probes, on the doorstep of interstellar space."

To mark the event, Nasa has released a visualisation of the entire process.



At the beginning, in 1997 the video shows the sun in Solar Cycle 23 with its positive polarity on the top (the green lines), and the negative polarity on the bottom (the purple lines).

Each set of lines gradually move toward the opposite pole, showing a complete flip around 2002, completing the sun's previous cycle.

Both set of lines representing the opposing magnetic fields then begin to work their way back, to culminate in the latest flip.

"At the height of each magnetic flip, the sun goes through periods of more solar activity, during which there are more sunspots, and more eruptive events such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections," said Nasa’s Karen C. Fox.

"Cosmic rays are also affected," added  Dr. Phillips. "These are high-energy particles accelerated to nearly light speed by supernova explosions and other violent events in the galaxy."
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