G8 summit protests in rural Maryland

Thurmont can feel a world away from Washington - but for the next few hours, it's the center of the political universe.

The G8 summit site-originally slated for Chicago-was changed to Camp David just two months ago, putting a small community on a big stage.

“I feel like we're on the eve of the Normandy invasion,” says Sheriff Chuck Jenkins. “It's coming---it's here.”

Several dozen activists who hope to make their voices heard at a global economic summit at Camp David are making their first stand in Frederick, Md., about 15 miles from the presidential retreat where world leaders are gathering.

Occupy movement members from Frederick and Washington held a "G8 People's Summit" Friday morning at the downtown Frederick library.

Speakers highlighted the income disparity between America's upper and middle classes.

And they called for a new tax on the purchase of stocks, bonds and derivatives. Occupy Frederick member Malgo Schmidt says the forum enabled the group to present substantial information to the public without the tight security restrictions facing those expected to demonstrate later Friday and Saturday in Thurmont.

“Even if they don't see it, the point is, the American people will, so they know what's going on,” says Occupy protester Kevin Wiley.

Leaders of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations are meeting Camp David.

With school canceled because of the summit, Erin Felichko and her husband brought their six kids downtown, wanting to teach their kids the world could change in their own backyard.

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The turmoil in Greece is draining confidence in the 17 countries that use the euro. Borrowing costs are up for the most indebted governments.

Depositors and investors are fleeing banks seen as weak.

Unemployment is soaring as recession grips nearly half the eurozone countries.

And global markets are on edge. All that forms a tumultuous backdrop as representatives of the G8 countries - the United States, Germany, France, Britain, Japan, Russia, Italy and Canada - head to Camp David.

Standing in the way of a breakthrough are disagreements over how to bolster Europe's economy and avoid a broader catastrophe.

In advance of the talks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck a conciliatory note this week.

She said in a television interview this week that she was open to measures to help stimulate Greece's economy as long as the country honors its commitments to shrink its debts.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner applauded the softer tone emerging among European leaders.

"You are seeing them talk about a better balance between growth and austerity, meaning a somewhat more gradual, softer path toward restoring fiscal sustainability," Geithner said.

The shift shows that European leaders recognize that countries can't increase their economic growth if they're forced to focus solely on cutting spending and reducing debts.

Geithner said European countries would benefit from investment in public works projects, like roads and schools.

At this weekend's talks, non-European leaders will seek assurances that European leaders could contain the damage from a banking meltdown in Greece.

They worry about a panic that could spill into Portugal, Spain and other indebted European countries - and to nations outside the continent whose banks are connected to Greek banks.

"If there was a bank run in Greece ... would they know how to prevent it from spreading to other countries?" said Jacob Kierkegaard, a research fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics