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  • Congo Vultures Bagged

    Vulture fund's $100m DR Congo claim blocked
    By Meirion Jones
    BBC Newsnight

    Bid to block $100m 'vulture' debt

    The Privy Council has ruled that a "vulture fund" cannot collect $100m from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    The award was against Congo's state-owned mining company Gecamines who successfully appealed to the Privy Council in London.

    FG Hemisphere deny any wrongdoing.

    Nick Dearden, Director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: "We welcome the fact that these funds will not flow into the coffers of a secretive vulture fund which tries to unfairly profit from the past debt distress of impoverished countries.

    Pursuit

    Vulture funds, also known as "distressed debt" investors, buy up the debt of poor nations cheaply when it is about to be written off and then sue countries such as Zambia or Liberia or DRC for the full value of the debt plus interest which can be ten or 100 times what they paid for it.

    They pursue any companies which do business with their target country in courts around the world and try to force them to pay money to the fund instead of the country.

    Critics say this holds poor countries to ransom and prevents them trading their way out of poverty rather than relying on aid. Until 2010 they often sued in the UK but Britain effectively made vulture funds illegal that year after the Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson (Show me more...)

    Fracking: New Dangers

    by Greg Palast for No Fracking Ireland

    Greg Palast Interview from DCTV on Vimeo.

    On the 20th of April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oilrig blew out in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven men instantly, then destroying 600 miles of coastline. On 9 September 2010, a natural gas pipeline exploded in San Bruno, California, burning eight to death, one of several recent pipeline explosions in the USA. In 1992, in Chicago, a gas pipe leaked and 18 houses exploded, incinerating three people.


    What do these deaths have to do with plans for “fracking” for natural gas in Ireland?

    Everything. It was my job to investigate these three explosions, the Deepwater Horizon and California explosions as a reporter for the UK Channel 4's Dispatches, the earliest as a US government investigator. In all three cases, the deaths were preceded by the same reassurances about the safety of drilling and piping that I read now in the debate about fracking in Ireland.

    First, the Deepwater Horizon.  Eleven men died when the ‘mud’ - drilling cement meant to cap the wellhead - failed and methane gas blew out the top of the pipes and exploded. The Shannon Basin is not the Gulf of Mexico, but your safety will be just as dependent on Halliburton’s mud. (Show me more...)

    Can we list your Group
    in our Election Guide?

    A Request from Greg Palast

    We need you to join Operation PUSH, Rock the Vote, People for the American Way, League of United Latin American Citizens, Bobby Kennedy Jr., Thom Hartmann Show, Occupy.com and 150 other organizations.  Add your group's name to our book, website and film, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps.

    What do you do?  Just hit 'reply' and say "YES, add us."

    (Please respond by Monday, July 16.)

    Then we'll send you a letter to confirm how you'd like to be listed (example: Presente.org), with your website, public contact and other info about your group you'd like to share with concerned voters.

    [Yes, individual supporters can join in:  click here.]

    In 2008, Bobby Kennedy and I wrote a voter protection comic book, Steal Back Your Vote. Over a quarter million copies were distributed to activists and in communities where voters are most vulnerable.

    In 2012, we're back, because they're back:  the vote rustlers, with their caging, purging, blocking, spoiling, vote-tossing ballot banditry.

    And we need your group to add its name as an ACTION RESOURCE (Show me more...)

    Warren Ellis: "Money is Fictional"

    Warren Ellis, author of Transmetropolitan, Crooked Little Vein and yet to be released Gun Machine gave the opening remarks for me last night in London for my UK release of Vultures' Picnic. Thankfully he posted them this morning, here's a bit of them, the full text can be found on his website www.WarrenEllis.com.

    Special thanks to Ollie and Anna for organizing an amazing evening, and to Laurie Penny, Nick Dearden and John Hilary.  

    I’m a writer of fiction. It’s fair to wonder why I’m here. I’m the last person who should be standing here talking about a book about real tragedies and economics. I come from a world where even the signposts are fictional. Follow the white rabbit. Second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning. And a more recent one, from forty years ago, the fictional direction given by a mysterious man to an eager journalist: follow the money.

    (Show me more...)

    The Euro is a Big Success - No Kidding

    by Greg Palast | The Guardian USA

    The idea that the euro has "failed" is dangerously naive. The euro is doing exactly what its progenitor – and the wealthy 1%-ers who adopted it – predicted and planned for it to do.

    That progenitor is former University of Chicago economist Robert Mundell. The architect of "supply-side economics" is now a professor at Columbia University, but I knew him through his connection to my Chicago professor, Milton Friedman, back before Mundell's research on currencies and exchange rates had produced the blueprint for European monetary union and a common European currency.

    Mundell, then, was more concerned with his bathroom arrangements. Professor Mundell, who has both a Nobel Prize and an ancient villa in Tuscany, told me, incensed:

    "They won't even let me have a toilet. They've got rules that tell me I can't have a toilet in this room! Can you imagine?" (Show me more...)

    How Bain Capital helped BP
    blow up the Deepwater Horizon

    A Book Review by Greg Palast, for FireDogLake.com
    on Poisoned Legacy: the Human Cost of BP's Rise to Power (St. Martin's Press) by Mike Magner.

    Here's my bead on Magner's book....

    I almost fell off the barstool when I read that it was Bain Capital (Mitt Romney, former CEO), that told oil giant BP it was a good idea to cut costs. (Show me more...)

    Billionaire Ballot Bandits - I've caught'em

    Karl Rove has you by the ballots.  With a $200 million war chest from a coven of billionaires, don't count on getting your vote counted.

    There's only one thing to stop him:  A COMIC BOOK.

    Please help us raise the cash to get this printed. The nation’s top elections-heist investigators can publish our new voter-protection comic book, BILLIONAIRES & BALLOT BANDITS.

    Donate $99 today and we'll list your name in the special thanks of the book for the 99% - plus a signed copy!

    Or, if you can't swing that, at least get a signed DVD which you can pre-order. (Show me more...)

    Killings, cancer, corruption and Azerbaijan:
    Eurovision in the Islamic Republic of BP

    by Greg Palast for Left Foot Forward
    Saturday, 26. May, 2012

    Palast's book Vultures' Picnic will be released in Britain June 26. Catch Palast with Special Guest Warren Ellis.
    More info here.

    Will “Beyond Petroleum” oil giant BP pick the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest today in Baku, Azerbaijan? If so, I wouldn’t be surprised.

    When I was arrested by the military police of Azerbaijan during my investigation of BP for Channel 4′s Dispatches in 2010, one of the cops who surrounded our crew in the desert told us, with great pride:

    “BP drives this country.”

    Indeed it does.

    In 1992, the newly independent former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan elected a kindly Muslim Professor, Abulfaz Elchibey, as President.

    But the voters had made an error: (Show me more...)

    Vote like an Egyptian?

     
    by Mark Bebawi
     
    It’s rare for us to have guest articles, but Pacifica Radio host of The Monitor, Mark Bebawi, has insight into an issue where to be dumb is to be deadly.  Mark, born and raised in Cairo, wrote his master’s dissertation at Oxford on the Egyptian Brotherhood.  George Bush sent me his copy.  (Or was that The Pet Goat?)
     
    So, to cut through the crapola about doings in Cairo, I’ve asked Bebawi to write a short “Egypt for Idiots” about the election today, a special for our readers.  

     
    For all the talk of revolution and the Arab Spring, what happened last year in Egypt was not regime change. It was more of a clothing change – a suit was removed and a military uniform was donned in a country that went from a nominally civilian dictatorship to a military council. But fundamentally the same people are in charge now as were during the Mubarak presidency.
     
    In spite of this, the presidential election in Egypt is historic. It is the first time the outcome is not predetermined.  There are 13 candidates on the ballot and none of them will get a Mubarak-like 90 plus % of the vote. So who will people be voting for (Show me more...)

    Kennedy, The New York Post and the truth

    What a terrible task to take on at such a dark moment when I would prefer to keep my thoughts private, but someone must speak.
    I am, and I hope you are, sickened to see Rupert Murdoch's New York Post savage our colleague Robert F. Kennedy Jr. while he and his children are in great distress.
    I will not answer, and thereby repeat, the cruel libels thrown at Kennedy by the Post.
    But let me get this on the record: Kennedy is, and this is no exaggeration, the most committed family man I know. Every single day, he shuts down work, no matter the flood of urgent demands from around the world, for family time, for his kids. He is deeply religious, with a piety and intelligence he communicates with his family so impressive it makes me doubt my atheism.
    Kennedy uses his family name, not to further his career, but to widen his children's understanding and involvement in the world and to try to teach our ignorant nation lessons in moral conduct that his kids have already learned well.
    To blame Kennedy for his wife's illness (Show me more...)

    Condolences

    Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family of our friend and colleague, Bobby Kennedy, and his children, on the tragic death of his wife and their mother, Mary.

    Our thoughts tonight are with your family.

    - Greg, Leni & Zach 

    Arrest of BP Scapegoat:
    Real Killers Walk

    by Greg Palast – Special for Buzzflash at Truthout

    The Justice Department went big game hunting and bagged a teeny-weeny scapegoat.  More like a scape-kid, really.

    Today, Justice arrested former BP engineer Kurt Mix for destroying evidence in the Deepwater Horizon blow-out.

    (Show me more...)

    BP Cover-up
    Part 2: Bribery, George Bush and WikiLeaks

    by Greg Palast - Exclusive for EcoWatch.org
    Friday, 20. April, 2012

    Evidence now implicates top BP executives as well as its partners Chevron and Exxon and the Bush Administration in the deadly cover-up –– which included falsifying a report to the Securities Exchange Commission.

    Yesterday, Ecowatch.org revealed that, in September 2008, nearly two years before the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP rig had blown out in the Caspian Sea––which BP concealed from U.S. regulators and Congress.

    Had BP, Chevron, Exxon or the Bush State Department revealed the facts of the earlier blow-out, it is likely that the Deepwater Horizon disaster would have been prevented.

    Days after the Deepwater Horizon blow-out, a message came in to our offices (Show me more...)

    BP Cover-up 'They Knew.'
    Part 1

    by Greg Palast – Exclusive for EcoWatch.org
    Thursday, 19. April, 2012

    Two years before the Deepwater Horizon blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP off-shore rig suffered a nearly identical blow-out, but BP concealed the first one from the U.S. regulators and Congress.

    This week, EcoWatch.org located an eyewitness with devastating new information about the Caspian Sea oil-rig blow-out which BP had concealed from government and the industry.

    The witness, whose story is backed up by rig workers who were evacuated from BP’s Caspian platform, said that had BP revealed the full story as required by industry practice, the eleven Gulf of Mexico workers “could have had a chance” of survival. But BP’s insistence on using methods proven faulty sealed their fate.

    One cause of the blow-outs was the same in both cases:  the use of a money-saving technique—plugging holes with “quick-dry” cement.

    By hiding the disastrous failure of its penny-pinching cement process in 2008, BP was able to continue to use the dangerous methods in the Gulf of Mexico—causing the worst oil spill in U.S. history. April 20 marks the second anniversary of the Gulf oil disaster.

    There were several failures in common to the two incidents identified by the eyewitness. He is an industry insider whose identity and expertise we have confirmed. His name and that of other witnesses we contacted must be withheld for their safety.

    The failures revolve around the use of “quick-dry” cement, the uselessness of blow-out preventers, “mayhem” in evacuation procedures and an atmosphere of fear which prevents workers from blowing the whistle on safety problems.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Support The Palast Investigative Fund and keep our work alive!

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr., president of Waterkeeper Alliance and senior attorney for Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “We have laws that make it illegal to hide this kind of information. At the very least, these are lies by omission. When you juxtapose their knowledge of this incident upon the oil companies constant and persistent assurances of safety to regulators, investigators and shareholders, you have all the elements to prove that their concealment of the information was criminal.” (Show me more...)

    Gulf still slimed by BP oil

    by Kert Davies, Research Director, Greenpeace USA

    Read the Greenpeace blog and listen to the Greenpeace Radio Podcast with Greg Palast, author of Vultures' Picnic: In pursuit of petroleum pigs, power pirates and high-finance carnivores.

    Then read this.  It's my soul on a plate.  Then pass it on so others can taste it.
    -- gp

    "Occupy," Big Oil and the U.S. Media
    with Muckraking Journalist Greg Palast
    By Kevin J. Kelley [12.07.11]
    Seven Days Magazine

    (Show me more...)

    UPDATE: Cops beat our cameraman ZD Roberts

    [New York Monday March 19]

    Our photographer ZD Roberts was beaten by New York City cops with nightsticks while covering Occupy Wall Street's attempt to re-take Zuccotti Park Saturday night.

    (Show me more...)

    The Fukushima story you didn't hear on CNN

    "Completely and Utterly Fail in an Earthquake"

    by Greg Palast
    for FreePress.org

    I've seen a lot of sick stuff in my career, but this was sick on a new level.

    (Show me more...)

    BP Settlement Sells Out Victims - UPDATE
    Deal buries evidence of oil company willful negligence

    by Greg Palast
    for TheMudflats

    See Greg Palast on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman on the BP Settlement.

    Following the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Greg Palast led a four-continent investigation of BP PLC for Britain's television series Dispatches. From 1989-91, Palast directed the investigation of fraud charges in the Exxon Valdez grounding for Alaska Native villages.

    Some deal. BP gets the gold mine and the public gets the shaft.

    On Friday night, the lawyers for 120,000 victims of the Deepwater Horizon blow-out cut a deal with oil company BP PLC which will save the oil giant billions of dollars. It will also save the company the threat of a trial that could expose the true and very ugly story of the Gulf of Mexico oil platform blow-out.

    I have been to the Gulf and seen the damage — and the oil that BP says is gone.  Miles of it.  As an economist (Show me more...)

    Romney's Auto Bail-out Billionaires

    Top funders made billions from US Treasury

    by Greg Palast
    for NationOfChange

    [Thursday February 23] Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney called the federal government’s 2009 bail-out of the auto industry, “nothing more than crony capitalism, Obama style... a reward for his big donors to his campaign." In fact, the biggest rewards ­­– a windfall of more than two billion dollars care of US taxpayers ­­­–– went to Romney's two top contributors.

    John Paulson of Paulson & Co and Paul Singer of Elliott International, known on Wall Street as “vulture” investors, have each written checks for one million dollars to Restore Our Future, the Super PAC supporting Romney’s candidacy.

    Gov. Romney last week asserted that the Obama Administration’s support for General Motors was a, “payoff for the auto workers union.” However, union workers in GM’s former auto parts division, Delphi, the unit taken over by Romney’s funders, did not fare so well. The speculators eliminated every single union job from the parts factories once manned by 25,200 UAW members.

    (Show me more...)

    The Billionaires' Brokered GOP Convention

    by: Greg Palast, Truthout | Op-Ed

    The Plan is working.

    Mitt Romney's biggest backer didn't want him to win.

    We know that Paul "The Vulture" Singer, Romney's Daddy Warbucks, organized the "grassroots" campaign to replace Romney with Gov. Chris Christie back in September.

    That flopped, so Singer and the billionaire boys' club that courted Christie moved over to Romney. Not that they had a choice. They knew Moonrocks Gingrich, who thinks he's running for Master Jedi, and Saint Santorum who thinks he's running for pope, would end up road kill in November.

    But despite their million-dollar checks for Romney's campaign, the billionaires are handling the ex-governor with very long and slippery tweezers. The fact that Singer and the Koch brothers went on bended knee to Christie means they are just nauseated over Romney, a man losing a war with the English language and his own tax returns, carrying their standard against President Obama. (Show me more...)

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