Year: 2010

The Real Wiki Hero

Greg Palast 

by Marta Steele from OpEdNews
with a Surprise P.S. from Greg Palast

Bradley Manning

Is it not ironic that the same country that contributed Rupert Murdoch to the world has more recently donated Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks since 2007, when it was founded to “report on and publish important information,” on a totally voluntary and nonprofit basis. It describes its work as “[p]ublish[ing] and comment[ing] on leaked documents alleging government and corporate misconduct.”

The group consists of accredited journalists, software programmers, network engineers, mathematicians, and others. Citing as its authority the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it states that everyone has the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
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Debt Vultures Shot for Chanukah
Liberia is saved but predators are still at large

Greg Palast 

For In These Times

We got’m. I can hardly believe it.

Yesterday, the financial vultures, the carcass-chewers who were preying on the dirt-poor African nation of Liberia, gave up.

Two shadowy vulture funds, which had won a $43 million court judgment against Liberia, agreed to accept only $1.4 million to settle their claim following an investigation by our BBC Newsnight team. We had sought to determine if the vulture funds were covers for an elaborate fraud scheme. They folded rather than face further scrutiny and attacks from activists, Parliaments and Congress.

Refresher: In February, for BBC Television Newsnight and In These Times, our team hunted down a predator with a Ph.D., Dr. Eric Hermann, who, for a couple pennies

on the dollar, secretly bought the right to collect a $6 million debt owed by Liberia.

Hermann and his flock of vulture partners demanded Liberia pay $43 million—a devastating sum for that nation—or he would, in effect, block aid funding for Liberia’s recovery from civil war. The nation was now Hermann’s economic hostage.

I was investigating the strange links between Hermann and a company named Hamsah Investments; it smelled of fraud. Tipped off that I was about to arrive with a camera crew to question …more

The Family Jewels
A Veteran’s Story

Greg Palast 

A note from the Palast family
My mother, my sister and I can’t thank you enough for your expressions of kindness on hearing of my father’s death. For those of you who so graciously honored him with a donation to the Gil Palast Memorial Fund, my family will shortly designate the young journalist who will receive these funds as a fellowship. Last week, a mile off the California coast, we scattered my dad’s ashes in the Pacific. Yours, Greg P

In 1930, when my father was an 8-year-old kid in Chicago, he asked his older brother why people were outside in the cold snow in a long line.

His brother Harold said, “It’s a bread line. They don’t have anything to eat. They’re hoping for bread.”

My father ran to his mother’s bedroom, grabbed her diamond brooch, ran downstairs, and gave it to a man in the line.

Gil Palast (1921-2010) in Jeep WWII Pacific Theater (passenger seat) 1944
Restoration of photo by Sari Kadison-Shapiro, [email protected]
(click to enlarge)

Later in the Depression my grandfather lost all his money.

The important thing is, that after my father gave away the jewels, no one in his family chastised him.

Here’s what you need to know about my father and maybe about me:
My father worked in a furniture store in the barrio in Los Angeles, where he sold pure crap on lay-away to Mexicans.  Then, later on, he sold fancier crap to fancier people in Beverly Hills and he hated furniture, and he hated the undeserving pricks and their trophy wives who bought it.

Dad figured it this way:  The bankers, the union-busters, the Bushes — whoever ran the show — were all a pack of vultures and the rest of us were just food.

And when I turned 8 myself, my dad gave me some important jewelry:  His medals from World War II.  He wanted me to lose them, to throw them away, anything.  It was March 8, 1965.  I know the exact date because the US Marines had landed at Da Nang, Vietnam.

My father won the medals in the Pacific jungles for freeing the oppressed. Then, on that day in 1965, that degenerate Lyndon Johnson ordered my dad’s Army to return to the jungle to oppress the free.  Johnson and Nixon, and the rest of the gangsters, had turned my dad’s medals into garbage.

But life wasn’t all garbage and Nixon and furniture.  My parents danced — in fact, they were champs. Even in their 70s they won a medal in the tango.

Today my mother needs oxygen to breathe and my father, after his stroke, needed a walker frame to move. A little while back they decided to have a nice day out.  My mom dressed up in her goofy red, white and blue patriotic garb, strapped on a canister of oxygen, and my father, limping a few inches at a time, made it to the local grocery store – to join the union picket line.

This past Saturday was my mother’s birthday, her 89th.  My father, in the hospital, told her to have a real blowout of a party.  She did.   It was a hell of a celebration.

But the next day, as we had expected, my father died.

He was happy my sister and I had flown in on time.  He was especially happy that we don’t sell furniture.

His last words were to my mother, “Happy birthday.”

***

My mom and dad don’t want anyone to send flowers. My mother asks that if you’d like to honor Gil Palast to please send a donation to our not-for-profit Palast Investigative Fund. My father was damn proud of what we do.

I’d be just as happy, if you have a couple bucks, to take your mom and dad out dancing.

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Rove’s Vote Trickster: Caging Explained

Greg Palast 

On Tuesday, Tim Griffin, former chief of research of the Republican National Committee, is on the ballot for Congress to represent Little Rock, Arkansas. He’s favored to win. But Griffin is just as happy to win by stealing votes. Here’s a clip from the Elections Files, the Palast team’s investigations for BBC Television and Democracy Now. …

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The Petroleum Broadcast System
Owes Us an Apology

Greg Palast 

For Truthout/Buzzflash

Tonight, my dog Pluto and I watched the PBS ‘Frontline’ investigation of BP, “The Spill.”

PBS has uncovered a real shocker:  BP neglected safety!

Well, no shit, Sherlock!

Pluto rolled over on the rug and looked at me as if to say, Don’t we already know this?

Then PBS told us — get ready — that BP has neglected warnings about oil safety for years!

That’s true.  But so has PBS.  The Petroleum Broadcast System has turned a blind eye to BP perfidy for decades.

If the broadcast had come six months before the Gulf blow-out, after the 2005 BP Refinery explosion in Texas, or after the 2006 Alaska pipeline disaster, or after the years of government fines that flashed DANGER-DANGER, I would say, “Damn, that Frontline sure is courageous.”  But six months after the blow-out, PBS has shown us it only has the courage to shoot the wounded.

But hey, at least PBS is now on the case.

Or is it?   …more

Was Tim Griffin merely a “Rove-bot”?
Did Karl Rove write the memos that dunked candidate Griffin in hot water?

Greg Palast 

Special to the Arkansas Times
(New York, London)

Steal Back Your Vote Comic BookIllustration from Steal Back Your Vote Comic book voterguide.
To learn more click on the image.

Greg Palast, the journalist who blew the whistle on Republican vote suppression activities in Florida (“caging”), has communicated with me further following an e-mail I passed along this morning. He has a theory on Republican congressional candidate Tim Griffin’s involvement in the scheme
Palast’s report:

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SarahPAC Candidate “Should Be in Jail”
NBC TV airs vote “caging” exposé on Tim Griffin

Greg Palast 

For Truthout/Buzzflash

“What he [Griffin] did was absolutely illegal and he should be in jail.”

Illustration from Steal Back Your Vote comic

That’s hardly the kind of endorsement a candidate for Congress expects. But that is the conclusion of voting rights attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. after digging into the evidence of Congressional candidate Tim Griffin’s role in directing the Republican National Committee’s racially biased attack on voters known as “caging.”

A brutal mano-a-mano race in Arkansas’ Second District has become a showdown between Sarah Palin’s banner carrier Griffin (funded by SarahPAC) and Democrat Joyce Elliott who has drawn homeboy Bill Clinton back to Little Rock.

The ex-President, in Arkansas this week, was especially worked up about Griffin’s caging list vote suppression scheme. (Our Good Ol’ Boy in Chief told me back in 2008 he would bust out the story, and it only took him two years to do the right thing, a personal best for Bill.)
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Arkansas NBC TV:
Greg Palast busts Rove-bot

Greg Palast 

Tim Griffin, Congressional candidate, exposed

Tim Griffin
NBC Arkansas television anchor and investigative reporter Melissa Simas confronted Griffin, a candidate for a Little Rock congressional seat, with the latest information Palast has uncovered on the “Tim Crow” caging scheme.

Watch the Report

It’s not Tim Griffin’s day. In 2004, BBC Television exposed Karl Rove’s crony Tim Griffin, for running an operation to challenge the right to vote of active duty soldiers, especially those of color. …more

Decision 2010:
Tim Griffin and Voter Caging

Greg Palast 

Reported by: Melissa Simas, KARK 4 NBC News

After two years, and several resignations among Department of Justice staffers, in July, a special prosecutor wrapped up her investigation of the nine U.S. Attorneys fired in 2006. Bud Cummins, a Republican from Arkansas, was one of the U.S. Attorneys fired. Tim Griffin, another Republican, and the current candidate for Congress in Arkansas was named as his replacement.

Though no criminal charges were filed, the report indicates, “the process used to remove the nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006 was fundamentally flawed.”

The report itself makes reference to Mr. Griffin’s alleged involvement with voter caging. Because of Mr. Griffin’s candidacy, we sat down with him to discuss the allegations. He told KARK he was not concerned about the Department of Justice report when he decided to run for Congress.
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Crisis in Ecuador
Greg Palast Interviews President Correa

Greg Palast 

Palast Interviews President Correa

Ecuador’s president promises punishment
after day of chaos.

Rafael Correa promises ‘no forgiveness’ for those involved in uprising, as opposition politicians are accused of staging a coup.

Ecuador remains in a state of siege with the military in charge of public order.
President Rafael Correa is promising to punish his enemies a day after a police rebellion triggered mayhem.

In February 2008 Greg Palast met with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. They discussed the Lawsuit against Chevron, Eradicating Foreign Debt and Why He Says “Ecuador is No Longer for Sale”

Watch part of the interview.
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Fighting Bob Fest Attracts Big Names

Greg Palast 

By Tim Damos, News Republic

Greg Palast doesn’t pull any punches.

His investigative stories are written in classic muckraker style; hard-hitting in both the juiciness they uncover and the language they use.

Author of the New York Times best sellers “Armed Madhouse” and “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,” Palast has become a familiar face at Fighting Bob Fest, the annual gathering devoted to carrying on the progressive spirit of the late Wisconsin Congressman and Gov. Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette.

WATCH Palast’s keynote speech at the Barrymore Theater on September 10, 2010.
WATCH Palast’s talk at the outdoor 2010 Fighting Bob Festival in Baraboo, WI on September 11, 2010.

Greg PalastBrian D. Bridgeford / News Republic File photo
(hover cursor to enlarge)

For Palast, serious investigative journalism is not about projecting an image of objectivity by presenting both sides of an argument in a “he said, she said” story. It’s about getting down in the trenches, relentlessly seeking truth and relaying it to readers untainted by any “spin.”

“Impartial is not failing to say it like it is or to provide the information,” Palast said in a phone interview Thursday, adding that many American mainstream reporters are afraid to pursue stories that are “threatening to (the elite’s) agreed upon view of the world.

“If you’re out of that channel, if you’re out of their stream, they say, you’re out of the mainstream.”
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Bush’d again?
New Orleans, Mr. O and Mr. Go

Greg Palast 

For The Huffington Post

Five years ago this week, a beast drowned New Orleans. Don’t blame Katrina: the lady never, in fact, touched the city. The hurricane swept east of it.

You want to know the name of the S.O.B. who attacked New Orleans? Locals call him “Mr. Go”the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet (MR-GO).

MR-GO was undoubtedly the most bone-headed, deadly insane project ever built by the Army Corps of Engineers. It’s a 76-mile long canal, straight as a gun barrel, running right up from the Gulf of Mexico to the heart of New Orleans.

In effect, MR-GO was a welcome mat to the city for Katrina. Experts call it “the Hurricane Highway.”

Until the Army Corps made this crazy gash in the Mississippi Delta fifty years ago, Mother Nature protected the Crescent City with a green wreath of cypress and mangrove. The environmental slash-job caused the government’s own hydrologist to raise alarms from Day One of construction.

Unless MR-GO was fixed or plugged, the Corps was inviting, “the possibility of catastrophic damage to urban areas by a hurricane surge coming up this waterway.” (I’m quoting from a report issued 17 years before The Flood.)

A forensic analysis by Dr. John W. Day calculated that if the Corps had left just 6 miles of wetlands in place of the open canal, the surge caused by Katrina’s wind would have been reduced by 4.5 feet and a lot of New Orleaneans would be alive today.
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No “Home Sweet Home”
Five years after Katrina

Greg Palast 

Matt Pascarella and I encountered Patricia Thomas while she was breaking into a home at the Lafitte Housing Project in New Orleans. It was her own home. Nevertheless, if caught, she’d end up in the slammer. So would we. Matt was my producer for the film, Big Easy to Big Empty, and he encouraged my worst habits. I’d worked for the New Orleans Housing Authority years back and knew they wanted the poor black folk out of these pretty townhouses near the French Quarter. Katrina was an excuse for ethnic cleansing, American style. Matt and I skipped cuffs on this shoot, but were charged later by Homeland Security (see below). While I recorded the story of hidden evils on film, Matt gathered a story which no camera can capture. Here it is. — Greg Palast

by Matt Pascarella

Four years ago, on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I sat with Patricia Thomas. Greg Palast and I had just helped her break into her home in the Lafitte Projects. She had been locked out for a year. She showed us her former home, her belongings scattered everywhere, and wrestled out endless stories of post-Katrina life: how she struggled to find shelter over the last year, how they came and put bars on her doors and windows and locked her out, how it was “man made.”
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Five Years and Still Drowning
The New Orleans CNN Would Never Show You

Greg Palast 

It’s been five years already. In New Orleans, more than half the original residents have not, cannot, return.

“They don’t want no poor niggers back in – that’s the bottom line.”

And that’s Malik Rahim, Director of Common Ground, who led the survivors who rebuilt their homes in the teeth of official resistance in “The City That Care Forgot.”

You’ll meet Malik and the people that everyone forgot in Big Easy to Big Empty: the Untold Story of the Drowning of New Orleans, chosen this week as Moviefone’s top pick of Katrina documentaries.

Donate and get the signed DVD with added material, including Palast with Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman.

Meet Patricia Thomas who was locked out of her home in the Lafitte housing project near the French Quarter. We go with her as she breaks into her blockaded apartment.

“Katrina didn’t do this. Man did this.”

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Separation of Church and Hate:
The Kate Mosque Solution

Greg Palast 

by Greg Palast Special to BuzzFlash

Since everyone seems to have an opinion about the mosque near Ground Zero (and President Obama has two), I’d like to ask you all a couple of questions:

Given that white Christian supremacist Tim McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma City Federal Building, shouldn’t we ban white churches from Oklahoma?

As New York City’s indigenous Lenape Natives died at Ground Zero by the thousands when overrun by Christian colonists, shouldn’t we ban Christian churches from their sacred ground?

If a mosque near Ground Zero is bad, then why not ban all Muslims from downtown New York? For this to work, should we require all Muslims in the city to wear yellow crescents?

My office was in the WTC towers, which will now be rebuilt with all the upscale shops I remember. So, Mrs. Palin, are you saying it’s OK for Muslims to shop at Ground Zero as long as they don’t pray there?

The new tower will have the old one’s Off-Track Betting windows and bars with after-work “happy hours.” So here’s a solution to make everyone happy: Why not camouflage the mosque as a place to gamble and get into your secretary’s panties?

How about disguising it as a discount fashion shop: Kate Mosque? Or as a Disney retail outlet: Mickey Mosque?

Jamie Kilstein has suggested to me that we ban Burger Kings from Ground Zero in honor of the victims of heart disease. But Jamie, the BKs are memorials to remind us that in the eyes of God, all of us — no matter what religion — are just hamburger meat.
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Behind Bush’s Wyly Billionaire Burglars
… Hint: Beyond Petroleum

Greg Palast 
Greg Palast
From the Joker’s Wild card deck

Sam Wyly is one of the planet’s “Ten Greenest Billionaires,” according to Forbes. And, the magazine should have added, the one that deserves the most prison time.

Yesterday, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged billionaire Sam and his billionaire brother Charles with a stock market fraud which sucked over a half billion dollars out of their victims’ pockets. That’s nothing. The SEC has only uncovered the rattling tale of the Wyly snake.

This billionaire boys club is best known for backing the smear campaign against John McCain credited with giving George W. Bush the GOP nomination for President in 2000.  In 2004 they backed the Swift Boat smear on John Kerry.

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Palast on GRITtv: Fighting Toxic Oil Companies

Greg Palast 

Last week, Mike Papantonio told us on GRITtv that there was no fund from BP to pay for the oil disaster, and raised some questions about Kenneth Feinberg, the administrator of the damages to Gulf residents. Today investigative journalist Greg Palast answers some of those questions–and raises a few of his own.

Palast has been investigating BP for years, and right now is working on The Amazon to Arctic Investigation (and could use your help). He’s also got a bit of his own experience with Kenneth Feinberg, and he joins us in studio to lay out the history of cases like this, where the people hurt by corporate negligence end up getting doubly screwed when it comes time to get their benefits.