Zach D Roberts, photographer for the Palast Investigative Team, a split second before the copy cracked the lensâ€“â€“and whacked Zach. See that spot on the left? That’s the night stick hitting the lens.
Vultures Picnic comes out today – and here’s why I’m asking you, no joke, toÂ get it TODAY, or this week at the LATEST. Â Do that, and I’m once again on the bestseller list, top of Amazon. Â It’s the ONLY way the work you’ve supported, the work you think is important, breaks into the mainstream media.
And I’ll make it easy for you. Â YouÂ get a copy of Vultures Picnic TODAY or any time this week from our site, from an independent bookstore or Amazon or whatever, and I’ll send you, as a thank-you, no charge, a private link to see ALL FIFTEEN FILM SHORTSÂ and two audio tracks that are embedded in the “amplified” or “enhanced” versions.Â Check out a couple.
And you don’t pay a dime.
Every single review, from Bobby Kennedy [“Genius. A real-life spy novel”] to Democracy Now! has said it: Â this is my best book yet, by far. Â The best read.
That’s because I take you with me on the weird, horrific and darkly humorous investigations of Â British Petroleum, Tokyo Electric Power, Goldman Squid and the 1% of the 1%.
(I’ll also send you the link for the videos if you’ve already ordered the book. Just click here and click again on “Film Companion.” I trust you not to be a jerk and fake it.)
Occupy the best-seller list. Â Right now it’s totally occupied by Bill O’Reilly and his ilk. Â Ugh! Â Don’t let these weasels think we’re illiterate. Â Jam Vultures’ Picnic right down the media’s throat.
Afraid of commitment? Â ThenÂ read the first chapter, free, no charge, online or download. Â Pass it around. Â If you don’t like it, I’ll refund your money. Â (Yes, it’s free …but you get the point.)
What are you waiting for? Â Dick Cheney to shoot you in the face?
Vultures’ Picnic: Â In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores. Â It’s WHY we occupy.
I’ve seen a lot of sick stuff in my career, but this was sick on a new level.
Here was the handwritten log kept by a senior engineer at the nuclear power plant:
Wiesel was very upset. He seemed very nervous. Very agitated. . . . In fact, the plant was riddled with problems that, no way on earth, could stand an earth- quake. The team of engineers sent in to inspect found that most of these components could “completely and utterly fail” during an earthquake.
“Utterly fail during an earthquake.” And here in Japan was the quake and here is the utter failure. …more
Getting the hell out of the Islamic Republic of BP with the Deepwater Horizon evidence
From Vulturesâ€™ Picnic:Â In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Predators. A tale of oil, sex, shoes, radiation and investigative reporting – get it now.
[Based on a tip from some guy floating in the Caspian Sea in Central Asia, we take off for Baku, Azerbaijan, the â€œIslamic Republic of BP.â€ Stopping in London, the deathly ill MI6 double-agent Leslie the Bagman lays out the history of the coup dâ€™etat, hooker-bait and the $30 million â€œsweetenerâ€ paid by Lord Browne to the oil nationâ€™s â€œpresidentâ€â€“â€“and suggests we find his old spy-mate, Natasha.
In the middle of this Byzantine maze, Iâ€™m looking for the real reason for the Deepwater Horizon explosion, not the bullshit seen on CNN. I get the goods, film it, get arrested for filming it, get film confiscated …except for the film in the little Austin Powers camera-in-a-pen that has to find its way out of the country.]
Near the front of his new book, “Vultures’ Picnic,” Greg Palast quotes BuzzFlash at Truthout as calling himÂ “a cross between Seymour Hersh and Jack Kerouac.” Â He also quotes a White House spokesman as saying about him, “We hate thatÂ sonovabitch.”
During its first several years, Palast was the most interviewed resource on BuzzFlash. That was and is because he drives the global elite crazy,Â not to mention the mainstream corporate media.
He’s a one-person investigative junk yard dog, who chomps down and doesn’t let go. Â He’s indefatigable, as the subtitle of his book indicates, “inÂ pursuit of petroleum pigs, power pirates, and high-finance carnivores.”
Mark Karlin: More than any of your otherÂ books, your personality appears to come through most strongly …more
The Vultures’ Picnic tour swoops through 15 cities, starting this Sunday.
See the films and hear the twisted tales and sordid stories of the One Percent from my new book, Vultures’ Picnic â€” my four-continent pursuit of petroleum pigs, power pirates and high-finance carnivores.
Greece’s economy blew apart because a bunch of olive-spitting, ouzo-guzzling, lazy-ass Greeks refuse to put in a full day’s work, retire while they’re still teenagers, pocket pensions fit for aÂ pasha; and they’ve gone on a social-services spending spree using borrowed money. Now that the bill has come due and the Greeks have to pay with higher taxes and cuts in their big fatÂ welfare state, they run riot, screaming in the streets, busting windows and burning banks.
I don’t buy it.Â Â I don’t buy it because of the document in my hand marked, “RESTRICTED DISTRIBUTION.”
I’ll cut to the indictment: Â Greece is a crime scene. Â The people are victims of a fraud, a scam, a hustle and a flim-flam. Â Andâ€“â€“cover the children’s ears when I say thisâ€“â€“a bank named Goldman Sachs is holding theÂ smoking gun.
In 2002, Goldman Sachs secretly bought up â‚¬2.3 billion in Greek government debt, converted it all into yen and dollars, then immediately sold it back to Greece.
Goldman took a huge loss on the trade.
Is Goldman that stupid?
Goldman is stupidâ€”like a fox. The deal was a con, with Goldman making up a phony-baloney exchange rate for the transaction. Â Why?
Goldman had cut a secret deal with the Greek government in power then.Â Â Their game:Â Â to conceal a massive budget deficit. Â Goldman’s fake loss was the Greek government’s fake gain.
Goldman would get repayment of its â€œlossâ€ from the government at loan-shark rates.
The point is, through this crazy and costly legerdemain, Greece’s right-wing free-market government was able to pretend its deficits never exceeded 3 percent of GDP.
Cool. Fraudulent but cool.
But flim-flam isnâ€™t cheap these days: On top of murderous interest payments, Goldman charged the Greeks over a quarter billion dollars in fees.
When the new Socialist government of George Papandreou came into office, they opened up the books and Goldman’s bats flew out. Â Investors’ went berserk, demanding monster interestÂ rates to lend more money to roll over this debt.
Greece’s panicked bondholders rushed to buy insurance against the nation going bankrupt.Â Â The price of the bond-bust insurance, called aÂ credit default swap (or CDS), also shot through theÂ roof. Â Who made a big pile selling the CDS insurance? Â Goldman.
And those rotting bags of CDS’s sold by Goldman and others? Didn’t they know they were handing their customers gold-painted turds?
That’s Goldman’s specialty.Â Â In 2007, at the same time banks were selling suspect CDS’s and CDOs (packaged sub-prime mortgage securities), Goldman held a â€œnet shortâ€ position against these securities. That is, Goldman was betting their financial “products” would end up in the toilet. Goldman picked upÂ another half a billion dollars on their “net short” scam.
But, instead of cuffing Goldman’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein and parading him in a cage through the streets of Athens, we have the victims of the frauds, the Greek people, blamed.Â Â Blamed and soaked for the cost of it.Â Â The “spread” on Greek bonds (the term used for the risk premium paid on Greece’s corrupted debt) has now risen to â€” get ready for thisâ€“â€“$14,000 per family per year.
Euro-nation, the secret Geithner memo, and the Ecuador connection
Why did the Greek government throw its nation’s fate into Goldman’s greasy hands?Â Â What the heck was in the “RESTRICTED” document? And why did I have to take it to Geneva, to throw itÂ down in front of the Director-General of the WTO for authentication, a creepy French banker I otherwise wouldn’t bother to spit on, and then tear off to Quito to share it with the gratefulÂ President of Ecuador?
To give you all the answers would require me to write a book.Â Â I have:Â Â Vultures’ Picnicâ€“â€“in Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Fraudsters.
It’s really quite important to me that you read it, that you get it now.Â Â That’s a funny statement, I suppose, from an author.Â Â But if you’ve been reading my stories in The Guardian or watching my reports onÂ BBC Newsnight, you’ve gotten the facts; but I really want to let you inside the investigations, to cross the continents with me and follow down the leads so that you can get a fullÂ picture of The Beasts.Â Â The Beasts and their trophy wives, intelligence agency go-fers, political concubines and bone-breakers.Â Â And besides, it’s enormous fun when it’s not scary as sh*t.
Here’s aÂ tasteÂ of Chapter 12 – The Generalissimo of Globalization – from the film-enhanced eBook edition. Â [And more on the 1% Greece-ing us, check out the upcoming issue of In These Times.]
Note:Â Â I will be in Chicago for In These Times on November 29, part of our 15 city tour that begins this coming Sunday, November 13, in Portland, then moves to San Francisco, LA, SanÂ Diego, Denver, Boulder, New Mexico, Albuquerque, Chicago, Madison, New York, DC, Houston, Burlington, and Atlanta. Find out more info here.
Greg Palast is the author of Vultures’ Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores.
Get it now! For more information about Palast’s brand new book and his book-signing events in your city, go to www.VulturesPicnic.org
After some tense discussion (Penguin was partly owned by Gaddafi, so you can imagine…), my publisher has given me the unusual right to give all my readers, for no charge, the entire firstÂ chapter of my new book Vulturesâ€™ Picnic. Even if you don’t get the book, I really want you to read the first chapter.
Never before, in my decades as an investigator, have I taken you with me undercover, on the hunt into the lives, secret files, shopping bags and back rooms of the cruel and whacky OneÂ Percent. Â And, for the first time, I’ve decided to let you in on Greg Palast, to open up my life and the inside of my operation, without censorship or BS.
Palast is the author ofÂ Vultures’ Picnic: in Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores.
What have I done?Â Â There’s one angry squid outÂ there.
Memo from Tim Geithner to Larry Summers (click to enlarge)
Last week,Â Democracy Now!Â andÂ The Guardian ran our story about Goldman Sachs yanking financialÂ support from a community credit union forÂ honoring one of its largestÂ customers.Â Â The customer:Â Â Occupy Wall Street.
Our report soÂ enraged Goldman that, within days, it doubled down on its attack on the littleÂ community bank.
Goldman hadÂ already demanded the return of its $5,000 payment to the Lower East SideÂ Peoples Federal Credit Union.Â Â Now,Â sources say, theÂ trillion-dollar Wall Street mega-bank sent the followingÂ message to the not-for-profit community bank:Â Â “You will never get a dime from any bankÂ ever again.”
About thoseÂ “dimes” Goldman is taking away:Â …more
Exclusive for The Guardian by Greg Palast, the author of Vultures’ Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates, and High-Finance Carnivores. With Arun Gupta, founding editor of The Occupied Wall Street Journal.
Greg Palast reports from Occupied Wall Street for Democracy Now!
[Zuccotti Park, Wall Street, New York.]
Mega-bankÂ Goldman SachsÂ (assets $933bn), has declared war on one of the smallest banks inÂ New YorkÂ (assets $30m), the customer-owned community bankÂ that happens to also be the banker for Friends of Liberty Plaza, Inc, also known asÂ Occupy Wall Street. And you thought Goldman didn’t care.
The trouble began three weeks ago when the occupiers suddenly found their donation buckets filling with thousands of dollars, way more than needed for theirÂ pizza dinners. Suddenly, the anti-bank protesters needed a bank. Citibank and Chase certainly wouldn’t fit. So OWS opened an account at the not-for-profit LowerÂ East Side Peoples Federal Credit Union. Peoples has a unique federal charter â€“ designated to open accounts for low-income folk from all over NewYork, availableÂ to those families earning less than $38,000 per year. (Disclosure: the CEO of the Peoples bank is my dearly beloved ex. But that’s another story.)
Goldman Sachs had also joined up with the Peoples bank. Goldman partners reportedly earn a bit more than $38k per annum, yet Goldman’s association so farÂ was limited toÂ giving the credit union $5,000 toward the little bank’s 25th anniversary celebration dinner. Goldman’s largesse was acknowledged on the dinnerÂ invites â€“ along with the night’s honoree: Occupy Wall Street.
When a Goldman exec saw its gilded name next to Occupy Wall Street, …more
[October 5, 2011] Paul Singer likes to breakfast on decayed carcasses. What he chews down is sickening, but just as nausea-inducing are his new table mates: Ken Langone and the Koch Brothers, Charles and David.
Don’t worry: Â the bankers are safe. Â The sub-prime sharks, derivatives divas, media mavens and their hairdressers, their trophy wives and theirÂ trophies’ personal trainers, the movers and shakers and money-makers, are all out of danger. Despite the warning that in a couple of daysÂ Hurricane Irene could well hit The Hamptons, the beach of the best of the ruling class will not lose a tan line.
I made sure they’re safe. Â A couple decades ago, I worked on an emergency evacuation plan for the county of Suffolk, New York, home of theÂ Hamptons. Â It’s the wealthiest county in the United States.
The Hamptons’ hurricane plan is six volumes thick. Â The police and the politicians, the fire department and the first responders have their copies,Â their orders, their equipment and they are ready to roll before a single fake-blonde curl is ruffled by untoward weather.
The last hurricane to hit Long Island, far fiercer than Katrina, took two lives, not 2,000.
But then, the Hamptons isn’t New Orleans, is it?
In 1992, a big storm washed into 190 houses on West Hampton Dunes, getting many grade-B film scripts very wet. Â The federal government,Â with your tax dollars, rebuilt every single home on the beach (average value then, $2 million each)â€“â€“and even rebuilt the beach with an endlessÂ samba line of trucks filled with sand, care of the Army Corps of Engineers.
There’s a photo of one, in case you’d like to move in. Â (Shouldn’t we each get at least a weekend in the surf for our money?)
Now look at Patricia Â Thomas’ home in the Lafitte Housing Project in New Orleans. Â I met her a year after the city flooded; she and her cousinÂ and her cousin’s two kids, just off the bus from refugee centers in Texas, were told that if they returned to their homes, they would be arrested.Â Â It’s been six years and they still are not allowed back in. Â Doesn’t matter: Â three years ago, their houses were torn down to make way for yuppie condos,Â for the nouvelle carpetbaggers who will enjoy Lafitte’s locale near the French Quarter.
Last year, a judge ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers and the federal government were completely responsible for the flooding of Lafitte andÂ half the city.Â Â [See the filmÂ ‘Big Easy to Big Empty.’ Â This week, the Palast Investigative Fund is providing the half-hour film without charge.Â Click here to download it.]
Under the Constitution, the President and Congress must authorize payment to flood victims, as they did for the Westhampton luvvies. Â But forÂ the Thomas family, Obama requested, and Congress, appropriated … absolutely nothing.
What about the New Orleans evacuation plan? Where were their six volumes? When I watched the chaos in August 2005, I immediately calledÂ FEMA to ask for a copy of the plan. Why were there no busses to take out those without cars? The number of deaths should have been ZERO.
The answer: the New Orleans plan couldn’t be found. Â The company paid to draft it, Innovative Emergency Management, couldn’t find a copyÂ either.Â Long after 2,000 drowned, I found the “plan”: Â no provision at all for the 27,000 residents without cars.Â That’s not surprising: theÂ hurricane evacuation contractor had zero experience in hurricane evacuation. Rather, IEM’s chief did have lots of experience in donating to theÂ Republican Party.
This week marks the sixth anniversary of the biggest ethnic cleansing in America since the Indian wars of the 19th Century: Â the flooding of NewÂ Orleans. Â We will celebrate this weekend, by worrying that Hurricane Irene will make the President and his donors on Martha’s Vineyard spill their daiquiris.
I met Patricia’s cousin five years ago today when, as dusk fell, she was in tears, wondering where she was going to stay with her kids that night.Â Â “That’s what I want to know, Mister, where we going to?”
Well, I know of some usually-empty and quite nice federal housing units on Westhampton Dunes….
I am not surprised that Piers Morgan has been outed for hacking phones (listening, in one case, to personal messages between Heather Mills and Paul McCartney). I learned about the creepy antics of this one-man TV-host crime spree the hard way:Â as a victim of his crime-and-slime form of “journalism.”
On September 29, 1998, Piers Morgan’s Mirror ran a screaming full page headline:Â SEX SCANDAL ROCKS LABOUR CONFERENCE.Â His paper
had caught a rival paper’s reporter who’d broken into the hotel room of a comely young rising star of the Labour Party.Â The reporter was caught there half undressed.
I was that reporter.
And the story was a complete load of crap.Â But Piers Morgan, “editor” of the Mirror, ran the report on Page One, and pages 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6â€”even though he knew it was fabricated.Â He knew because he had fabricated it.
Prime Minister Tony Blair’s press chief personally thanked Morgan for running the bogus story. …more
It was quite upsetting to find our President blindfolded and tied to a chair at the GOP Tea Party headquarters, but I’m sure the $2.2 trillion ransom we paid to the hostage-takers is worth it.
Well, now that the Obama presidency is over, we can move on to more serious matters.
Look out your window.Â Â What you’ll see is that, while the debt-ceiling hostage crisis playedÂ out on cable TV, the planet has been burning down.
You haven’t heard a lot from me this yearâ€”because the normally-noisy Palast investigations team has chosen to spend these months quietly digging into unreportedÂ cases of economic and environmental arson. Â It will all hit the presses and TV when we launch a new book and films later this year.
I asked my daughter if she would like to add her own recollections about JK Rowling and the “alternative” Harry Potter endings Jo Rowling told us when we were hanging out in the Green Room at BBC Television Centre. (I provide investigative stories for the BBC current affairs program Newsnight.) My daughter and her oblivious twin brother don’t remember much, but what did leave an impression were my speculations about the untimely and suspicious death of my fellow investigative reporter, Karl Larsson–whom you would know as the fiction writer “Stieg” Larsson.
My daughter interviewed me about Larsson’s work and wrote this report for school. Her mother is allowing me to post it only on condition her by-line gives her nickname only.…more