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Year: 2017

I Went To School With The Vegas Shooter

Greg Palast 

 

Mobile home on tracks, Sun Valley CA, birthplace of the Vegas shooter. From the film The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.

[Los Angeles] When we were at Francis Polytechnic High in Sun Valley, Steve Paddock and I were required to take electrical shop class. At Poly and our junior high, we were required to take metal shop so we could work the drill presses at the GM plant. We took drafting. Drafting like in “blueprint drawing.”

Paddock. Palast. We sat next to each other at those drafting tables with our triangular rulers and #2 pencils so we could get jobs at Lockheed as draftsmen drawing blueprints of fighter jets. Or do tool-and-dye cutting to make refrigerator handles at GM where they assembled Frigidaire refrigerators and Chevys.

But we weren’t going to fly the fighter jets. Somewhere at Phillips Andover Academy, a dumbbell with an oil well for a daddy was going to go to Yale and then fly our fighter jets over Texas. We weren’t going to go to Yale. We were going to go to Vietnam. Then, when we came back, if we still had two hands, we went to GM or Lockheed.

(It’s no coincidence that much of the student population at our school was Hispanic.)

But if you went to “Bevvie” – Beverly Hills High – or Hollywood High, you didn’t take metal shop. You took Advanced Placement French. You took Advanced Placement Calculus. We didn’t have Advanced Placement French. We didn’t have French anything. We weren’t Placed, and we didn’t Advance.

Steve was a math wizard. He should have gone to UCLA, to Stanford. But our classes didn’t qualify him for anything other than LA Valley College and Cal State Northridge. Any dumbbell could get in. And it was nearly free. That’s where Steve was expected to go, and he went with his big math-whiz brain. And then Steve went to Lockheed, like we were supposed to. Until Lockheed shut down plants in 1988. Steve left, took the buy-out.

And after NAFTA, GM closed too.

Land of Opportunity? Well, tell me: who gets those opportunities?

Some of you can and some of you can’t imagine a life where you just weren’t give a fair chance. Where the smarter you are, the more painful it gets, because you have your face pressed against the window, watching THEM. THEY got the connections to Stanford. THEY get the gold mine. WE get the shaft.

This is where Paddock and Palast were bred: Sun Valley, the anus of Los Angeles. Literally. It’s where the sewerage plant is. It’s in a trench below the Hollywood Hills, where the smog settles into a kind of puke yellow soup. Here’s where LA dumps its urine and the losers they only remember when they need cheap labor and cheap soldiers when the gusanos don’t supply enough from Mexico.

I’ll take you to Sun Valley. It’s in my film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. In the movie, a kind of dream scene, the actress Shailene Woodley takes me back to my family’s old busted home in the weeds and then down San Fernando Road, near Steve’s place. Take a look, America. Along the tracks that once led in to the GM plant, you see a bunch of campers that the union men bought for vacations. Now they live in them.

No, Steve’s brain was too big to end up on the tracks. He lived in empty apartments in crappy buildings he bought, then in a barren tract house outside Reno. I laugh when they say he was “rich.” He wanted to be THEM, to have their stuff. He got close.

It’s reported that Steve was a “professional gambler.” That’s another laugh. He was addicted to numbing his big brain by sitting 14 hours a day in the dark in front of video poker machines. He was a loser. Have you ever met a gambler who said they were a Professional Loser?

It’s fair to ask me: Why didn’t I end up in a hotel room with a bump-stock AR-15 and 5,000 rounds of high velocity bullets?

Because I have a job, a career, an OBSESSION: to hunt down THEM, the daddy-pampered pricks who did this to us, the grinning billionaire jackals that make a profit off the slow decomposition of the lives I grew up with.

But I’m telling you, that I know it’s a very fine line, and lots of crazy luck, that divided my path from Paddock’s.

Dear Reader: The publication that pulled this story at the last moment was plain scared — that they’d be accused of approving murder.

Paddock slaughtered good people, coldly, with intense cruelty, destroying lives and hundreds of families forever. If you think I’m making up some excuse for him, then I give up.

But also this: The editor of the Beverly Hills-based publication, a Stanford grad, could not understand that, just like veterans of the Vietnam war who suffer from PTSD even today, so too, losers of the class war can be driven mad by a PTSD that lingers, that gnaws away, their whole lives.

What happens to a dream deferred? Does it …fester like a sore? Does it stink like rotten meat? Sag…like a heavy load?

Or does it explode?

Steve, you created more horrors than your cornered life could ever justify.

But, I just have to tell you, Steve: I get it.

 

Poem by Langston Hughes

*****
Before turning to journalism as an investigative reporter for The Guardian and BBC Television, Greg Palast was an investigator of fraud and racketeering for governments and labor unions worldwide. His investigations have appeared in Rolling Stone, Harper’s and New Statesman. Known as the reporter who exposed how Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush purged thousands of Black voters from Florida rolls to steal the 2000 election for George Bush. Palast has written four New York Times bestsellers, including Armed Madhouse, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, now out as major motion non-fiction movie: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Case of the Stolen Election (the brand new, updated, post-election edition).

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Charlottesville: Victim of Neo-Nazi Beating Charged With Assault — No Kidding!

Greg Palast 

By Greg Palast with Zach D. Roberts for Truthout

DeAndre Harris, semi-conscious and bleeding.

We can’t make this up: African-American school teacher DeAndre Harris, victim of a beating by neo-Nazis in Charlottesville in August, has been — ready for this? — charged with assaulting the white supremacists who beat him with boards, iron rods, and brass knuckles.

That is correct. Harris, in photos released by Truthout and carried worldwide, was shown being beaten close to death — has now been charged with the same crime as his attackers: “unlawful wounding”.

Several of Harris’ attackers remain on the run — and local and federal officials show little interest in going after them. Yet, a Charlottesville magistrate issued a warrant to arrest Harris yesterday, October 9. …more

Warrant Issued for DeAndre Harris’ Arrest in Charlottesville

Greg Palast 

By Zach D Roberts

DeAndre Harris beaten in Charlottesville, VA Copyright: Zach D Roberts

Last night (Monday, October 9), we have learned that the DeAndre Harris story has taken a twist that would, in a different era, be surprising. With several of DeAndre’s attackers still on the run — and police showing no interest in going after them — DeAndre just had an arrest warrant issued in his name. According to a media release issued by the Charlottesville Police Department, the warrant was for “Unlawful Wounding” (Va Code 18.2-51).

That’s right, the young man who you can see here being beaten to an inch of his life by half a dozen white supremacists will be …more

Unsealed Kobach Docs Shed More Light On Tactics For Trump’s War On Voting Rights

Greg Palast 

Kobach memos unsealed.

On Friday, August 6, thanks to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU, a federal judge unsealed two documents relating to Kris Kobach’s proposed amendments to the National Voter Registration Act (a.k.a. the “motor-voter law”).

The first document was a memo that Kobach brought to a meeting with President-elect Trump in November 2016, which was partially exposed during a photo op and revealed that Kobach wants to “stop aliens from voting” by drafting amendments to the National Voter Registration Act “to promote proof of citizenship requirements.” The second unsealed document offers more insight into precisely how Kobach intends to do this. …more

May we add your name to the credits?

Greg Palast 

The massive success of our film has led to demands from NAACP, ACLU, Transformative Justice Coalition for a post-election update of the The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.

We are about to go to print with this post-election-heist edition.

Our new subtitle:  “The Case of the Stolen Election.”

And this is your chance to get your name in the credits!

For a tax-deductible donation of $100, we’ll list you in the movie credits as a Supporter and send you both the new signed DVD and a link to download it.

There’s a deadline: Saturday, Oct 7 at midnight PT

(If you are already on the credits from last year, you’ll remain in the new film.)

If you don’t have an extra Ben Franklin, …more

Finally, Busted!

Greg Palast 

Finally.

“Use of Crosscheck risks severe, discriminatory disenfranchisement of registered voters in violation of federal law.”

Last month, the NAACP and League of Woman Voters filed a lawsuit to put an end to the state of Indiana’s use and abuse of Crosscheck.

Their evidence:  the findings of the Palast Investigations team, our sleuths and our statisticians are cited throughout as the solid factual back-up for their suit to stop the wrongful removal of tens of thousands of voters of color in that state.

(Crosscheck is that secret hit list of 7 million Americans crafted by Kris Kobach, Trump’s “Elections Integrity” czar.  The list, targeting minority voters was discovered and uncovered by …more

Kobach “Election Integrity” Commission Discuss Obviously Bogus Claims Of Voter Fraud in NH
Republicans Aren’t Fools, Misdirection is Intentional

Greg Palast 

By Nicole Powers

Kris Kobach’s so-called “Election Integrity” Commission had their first public meeting in New Hampshire on Tuesday. One of the topics they discussed was claims made by a bogus Koch-funded Heritage Foundation report that 1,100 people in New Hampshire voted illegally (which Kobach repeated in his similarly bogus September 7 Breitbart column). The “evidence” that they used to back this claim up was that some people used out of state DMV ID to vote. On yesterday’s edition of the Thom Hartmann Program, Greg and Thom quickly debunk the Heritage Foundation and Kobach’s assertion that illegal out of state voters changed the outcome of the 2016 New Hampshire Senate race. …more

Civil Rights Center Calls On Governor McAuliffe (D) To Withdraw Virginia From Racist GOP Voter Purging Program

Greg Palast 

By Nicole Powers

After spearheading the launch of The Voting Rights Project in Virginia at an event on Saturday, September 9, DC’s Civil Rights Center has called for the state to withdraw from Interstate Crosscheck.

In an open letter, submitted on September 12, 2016, the Executive Director of the Civil Rights Center, Dee Hunter, asked Virginia’s Democratic Governor, Terry McAuliffe, to terminate the state’s participation in the GOP’s racially-biased-by-design voter purging program.

“Terry McAuliffe has called the Trump-Kobach vote fraud commission a machine of ‘vote suppression’. Yet McAuliffe is one of the last Democratic governors to insist …more

Watch The Voting Rights Project Virginia Panel Feat. Palast — Plus Representatives From NAACP, VoteRiders, People Demanding Action & More

Greg Palast 

On Saturday, September 9, 2017 we took the Voting Rights Project to the First African Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia. A screening of a brand new activist cut of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy was followed by a panel discussion. Moderated by Dee Hunter of the Civil Rights Center, it featured Palast, Kathleen Unger (VoteRiders), Andrea Miller (People Demanding Action), Brian Cannon (OneVirginia2021), Gus Semba (The Semba Foundation), and Greg Moore (NAACP).

The event had one main goal: To put pressure on the Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe — a Democrat — to remove the state from Kris Kobach’s stealth voter-purging system. Over a million voters have quietly …more

Second Man Arrested In Connection With Charlottesville Neo-Nazi Attack

Greg Palast 

Above: Alex Michael Ramos, Dan Borden, and three more unidentified males brutally assault school teacher De’Andre Harris in a parking garage in Charlottesville on August 12. Photo: Zach D Roberts.

On Monday, August 27, police finally arrested the second of two assailants identified from Palast Investigative Fund photographer Zach D. Roberts’ Charlottesville photos. Alex Michael Ramos, who surrendered himself to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia on Monday evening, has been charged with one count of malicious wounding. Fellow attacker, Dan Borden, faces a similar charge for the brutal assault of Black school teacher De’Andre Harris, which nearly cost him his life.

Still missing, the FBI moving on the others whom the attackers must know, including the man with the gun pictured below. (Thanks to Titter user @extapdancer for digitally enhancing the shot with a program called “Unshake” — see inset.)

Above: Can you identify this man? (Click on image to view high resolution file.) Photo: Zach D Roberts.

“While we’re happy that arrests are going forward… these two men were identified immediately by journalists who covered the rally. There have been no additional identifications of any of the other participants by law enforcement,” said Harris’ attorney, Lee Merritt, in an interview for Democracy Now!. “We just hope that people don’t settle with these two arrests and that law enforcement doesn’t think that the job is done with these arrests.”

Note that the Justice Department has brought no charges for crossing state lines with intent to commit violence. (Maybe Jeff sessions thinks that the other attackers were “very fine people“.)

“I’m also concerned in these arrests that they have been undercharged. Each were charged with one felony account of a malicious assaulting,” said Merritt. “We’re talking about a group of white supremacists who attacked a young black male at a white supremacist rally while shouting racial slurs… if this doesn’t set the table for hate-based criminal charges, I don’t know what will.” …more

Democracy Now!: Neo-Nazi Attack in Charlottesville Caught on Camera by Palast Photographer Zach D. Roberts

Greg Palast 

“Suddenly, a fight breaks out behind me. De’Andre Harris comes running out and is followed by about a dozen white supremacists, who are chasing him with clubs, helmets and shields and every sort of weapon they could find. And they shove him into a parking arm. He falls down. They keep beating him, kicking him, using whatever they can find.”

Palast Investigative Fund photographer Zach D. Roberts is interviewed by Nermeen Shaikh for Democracy Now! about the brutal beating of De’Andre Harris he witnessed and caught on camera in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017.

You can see more of Zach D. Roberts’s images from Charlottesville here. Zach also got an exclusive interview with De’Andre Harris, which you can find here. …more

Charlottesville Nazi Attacker Dan Borden Arrested For Brutal Assault Of School Teacher De’Andre Harris

Greg Palast 

Above: Dan Borden attacking De’Andre Harris in a Charottesville parking garage.

Neo-Nazi Dan Borden, who nearly beat Black school teacher De’Andre Harris to death in Charlottesville on August 12, has been arrested after being identified via photos taken by courageous Palast Investigative Fund photographer Zach D. Roberts. Borden also assaulted Roberts, who kept taking photos of the skinhead attackers even after the attackers’ pal pulled a gun.

Journalism saves lives—when it doesn’t lie.

Borden, 18, a former Mason High School student from Ohio, was charged with malicious wounding by Charlottesville police on Thursday, August 24 for the brutal assault of Harris. He was arrested the following day and is being held at the Hamilton County Justice Center in Cincinnati, OH awaiting extradition.

…more

José Crow: Arizona Fights Aliens
(aka Democrats)

Greg Palast 

On Friday, Aug 25 Donald Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona

Here’s an excerpt from The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast about Sheriff Joe:

“There is a massive effort underway to register illegal aliens in this country!”

– Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce

Art by Ted Rall, from The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast

The Arizona Republican hunt for “aliens” from Uranus to the Rio Grande has led to the removal of over …more

Civil Rights Groups Challenge
Indiana’s Use of Crosscheck:
Lawsuit Cites Palast’s Work On Kobach’s
Racist Voter Purging Program

Greg Palast 

I am thrilled that the NAACP and the League of Women Voters are using our Crosscheck investigation evidence to stop Jim Crow in Indiana. Only 27 states left to go. Next target: Virginia, where a so-called Democrat, Terry McAuliffe needs to dump Trump’s Crosscheck purges.

The lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday, August 23, challenges Indiana Senate Bill 442 which changed the way the state implemented Crosscheck. Previously, when an Indiana voter was flagged by …more

Alev Ha-Shalom, Brother Greg

Greg Palast 

Photo of Dick Gregory by Zach D Roberts.

Dick Gregory was a HUGE influence on my work and writings — that ability to take the darkest side of America and destroy the killers and Klansman with the deadly bullet of humor. Even while wilting from hunger (he would eat no solid food until the US left Vietnam). I memorized his speeches. He asked MLK III to introduce us so he could help promote The Best Democracy Money Can Buy — and I asked him to forgive me for his material that I plagiarized in our common cause. Alev ha-shalom, Brother Greg.
…more

Palast Calls The FBI To Report
A Crime In Charlottesville

Greg Palast 

On August 12, 2017 a 20-year old school teacher named De’Andre Harris was brutally attacked with iron bars and pieces of wood by a group of neo-Nazis.

The attack took place in a parking garage on Market Street — right next to the Charlottesville Police Station. Our photographer Zach Roberts took photos of the attack, which have since gone viral and have been reprinted online and in newspapers around the world. However, neither Roberts, Harris, or myself have been contacted by police, the FBI or Department of Justice officials.

Since this is a federal crime, involving actors who conspired and crossed state lines, we decided to contact the FBI ourselves to seek justice for Harris. This video documents the seven calls we made on Friday, August 18 in a frustrating attempt to report the near-murder of Harris.

…more