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 …more
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 till 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.
Economics is an art form. It’s the art of the invisible. Money is fictional.
The folding cash in your pocket isn’t real. Look at it. It’s a promissory note. “I promise to pay the bearer.” It’s a little story, a fiction that claims your cash can be redeemed for the equivalent in goods or gold. But it won’t be, because there isn’t enough gold to go around. So you’re told that your cash is “legal tender,” which means that everyone agrees to pretend it’s like money. If everyone in this room went to The Bank Of England tomorrow and said “I would like you to redeem all my cash for gold, right here, in my hand” I guarantee you that you all would see some perfect expressions of stark fucking terror.
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?” …more
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 …more
[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.
The two hedge fund operators turned a breathtaking three-thousand percent profit on a relatively negligible investment by using hardball tactics against the US Treasury and their own employees.
Under the control of the speculators, Delphi, which had 45 plants in the US and Canada, is now reduced to just four factories with only 1,500 hourly workers, none of them UAW members, despite the union agreeing to cut contract wages by two thirds.
It wasn’t supposed to be quite so bad. The Obama Administration and GM had arranged for a private equity investor to provide half a billion dollars in new capital for Delphi, but that would have cut the pay-out to Singer and Paulson. The speculators blocked the Obama-GM plan, taking the entire government bail-out hostage. Even the Wall Street Journal’s Dealmaker column was outraged, accusing Paul Singer of treating the auto company, “like a third world country.”
But it worked. Singer and Paulson got what they demanded. Using US Treasury funds:
GM agreed to pay off $1.1 billion of Delphi’s debts,
forgave $2.15 billion owed GM by Delphi (which had been spun off as an independent company)
pumped $1.75 billion into Delphi operations, and
took over four money-losing plants that the speculators didn’t want.
If those plants had been closed, GM factories would have shut down cold for lack of parts.
Then there was the big one: The US government agreed to take over $6.2 billion in pension benefits due Delphi workers under US labor law.
Governor Romney, while opposing the bail-out of GM, accused Obama of eliminating the pensions of 21,000 non-union employees at Delphi. In fact, it was Romney’s funders who wiped out 100% of the pensions and health care accounts of Delphi salaried retirees.
Paulson and Singer paid an average of about 67 cents a share for Delphi. In November, 2011, Paulson sold a chunk of his holdings for $22 a share. Paulson’s gain totals a billion and a half dollars ($1,499,499,000), and Singer gained nearly a billion ($899,751,000) — thirty-two times their investment.
One-hundred percent of this gain for the Paulson and Singer hedge funds is accounted for by taxpayer bail-out support.
But, unlike the government loans and worker concessions given to GM, the US Treasury and workers get nothing in return from Delphi.
From GM, the US Treasury got warrants for common stock (similar to options) that have already produced billions in profit.
And Delphi? It’s doing well for Paulson and Singer. GM and Chrysler, still in business by the grace of the US Treasury, remain Delphi’s main customers, buying parts now made almost entirely in China and other cheap-labor nations.
And exactly who are Paulson and Singer?
Billionaire John Paulson became the first man in history to earn over $3 billion in a single year — not for his hedge fund, but for himself, personally. At the core of this huge payday was a 2007 scheme by which, via Goldman Sachs, he sold “insurance” on subprime mortgage loans. According to a lawsuit filed by the Securities Exchange Commission, Goldman defrauded European banks by pretending that Paulson was investing in the insurance. In fact, Paulson was, secretly, the beneficiary of the insurance, reaping billions when the mortgage market collapsed.
Goldman paid half a billion dollars in civil fines for the fraud. While the SEC states that Paulson knowingly participated in the scheme, he was not fined and denies he defrauded the banks.
Multi-billionaire Singer is known as Wall Street’s toughest “vulture” speculator. Vulture fund financial attacks on the world’s poorest nations have been effectively outlawed in much of Europe and excoriated by human rights groups, conduct Britain’s former Prime Minister Gordon Brown described as, “morally outrageous.”
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. …more
It’s out of the closet — or, more accurately, out of the coven. The list of the billionaires who have given at least $1 million to Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney Super PAC, is headed by Paul Singer. Singer and his hedge fund crew at Elliott Associates, with their donations to the Republican National Committee and other “independent” groups like the Swift Boat campaign, makes it likely that Singer is now the top funder for the GOP.
For BBC-TV, I’ve been tracking Singer for five years. And this is the key fact you need to know about the man whose cash would pick our President: Paul Singer likes to breakfast on decayed carcasses.
The carrion king is known as Singer The Vulture. I didn’t give him the moniker. The name Vulture was tagged on him and his speculator colleagues by the Prime Minister of Britain and the World Bank. Recently, former Deputy Secretary-General of the UN Winston Tubman suggested I ask Singer or his business associates, “Do you know you’re causing babies to die?”
What does this guy do – put poison in kiddies’ milk? Worse: he takes away the milk. …more
This past Sunday, a deputation from Occupy Wall Street crossed the bridge from Manhattan and brought its protest to the Brooklyn residence of one of New York’s “vultures” This type of vulture doesn’t roost in a tree, but in a swish brownstone.
“So this Bishop, three priests and a comedian are locked up together in this paddy wagon and ….”
“Zach! This is NOT funny, and I do NOT want to hear the punch line.”
Actually, I appreciate the fact that our photo-journalist has a sense of humor about getting busted and jailed at Occupy Wall Street on Saturday.
But it’s not a joke. On Saturday, our man Zach D. Roberts, along with a bishop of the Episcopalian Church and three ministers of various faiths, plus a stand-up comic were pushed face first into the dirt at Duarte Park, hand-cuffed and hauled off in a police van to the lock-up in Lower Manhattan.
I did NOT appreciate that this follows his previous bust at Occupy, the busting of our $600 Tokina 11-16 f2.8 lens by a cop slamming his nightstick down on Zach (reparable) and hitting the lens (not reparable). [Heck of a photo, though, just as the stick is coming down.]
Zach, who is working with the Palast Investigations Team via a Gil Palast Memorial Fund journalism fellowship, has been covering the Occupation since Day One. His astonishing in-the-action photographs from #OWS have been featured in Portfolio Magazine and on the front page of The Guardian. However, credits and press credentials did not impress New York’s Finest.
But hey, they weren’t impressed by Bishop George Packard’s red robes. His Excellency was handcuffed and charged along with Zach and another newsman for trespassing on the property owned by the bishop’s own church, Trinity.
In the holding tank, Zach was put in with an OWS protester who wore a green cap with red blood oozing out from it, the Christmas color-scheme caused by an excess of NYPD holiday zeal.
Zach was there to cover the Occupation’s attempt to re-establish their encampment. OWS asked to use a parcel of empty land owned by Trinity, the oldest and arguably the wealthiest church in America, landlord for much of the real estate called Wall Street.
According to the Bishop (in an interview recorded, I kid you not, while cuffed in the wagon), his Church plans to lease the property to a developer for a skyscraper and is afraid that allowing protesters to move in would devalue their holdings–bring down the neighborhood, so to speak.
Despite the pleas of Bishop Packard, several priests and even fellow Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Trinity’s administrators refused Occupy’s request, choosing, in Tutu’s thinking, Mammon over the church’s moral mission.
The ecclesiastical issues of this Schism, while not exactly on the same order as Luther’s split from The Vatican, were serious enough to be decided by the cops who moved in after Occupation activists (clerics included) used ladders to breach the construction fences.
What concerns me is that the One Percent are clearly using their blue enforcers not just to stop protesters but to stop coverage of the protest. Not every cop went along. One policeman, told to arrest Zach, resisted the command, “This guy’s a journalist! What are we doing!?”
That cut no ice with his bosses. I guess if you can bust a bishop, a journalist is kind of small stuff.
These are Zach’s photos from the demo, including the one at the right he shot while face-down on the ground, before they grabbed our equipment.
The shot you see of Zach under arrest was taken by CS Muncy, a top-rank freelancer whose work appears in The Wall Street Journal. Frighteningly, while trying to cover Wall Street, a cop grabbed his press credential necklace but, in the mayhem, Muncy was able to yank it back. While I’m concerned about Muncy’s neck, I’m more concerned about this new–and increasingly violent–attack on press freedom.
Note: Funeral services will be held for our Tokina 11-16 f2.8 lens this week at our New York offices. Zach has requested that, instead of sending flowers, donations be made to the Palast Investigative Fund.
Zach, who was released early Sunday morning, has a court date set for February. We will keep readers informed via our Facebook page, which will include more of Zach’s photos and his own diary of events.
Greg Palast is the author of Vultures’ Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores, released in the US and Canada by Penguin.
You can read Vultures’ Picnic, “Chapter 1: Goldfinger,” or download it, at no charge: click here.
All photos by Zach D. Roberts. Permission granted for use with credit.
“Top funders of the Republican Party have demanded that two African nations pay them over half a billion dollars…. Is one of these vulture’s claims based on a stolen security, criminally transferred to an American financier called ‘Goldfinger’? Greg Palast, author of the new book, Vultures’ Picnic, investigates for BBC Television and The Guardian.”
Greg Palast reporting from Kinshasa, Congo; Sarajevo, Bosnia; and Brooklyn, New York
If God doesn’t give a rat’s ass about The Vulture, and what he does for a living, and what he’s done for Africa, why should I?
The thought struck me while sitting here, coffee getting cold, in my old Toyota, trying to look invisible, staked out in front of 300 Dekalb Avenue. It’s just after dawn here in Brooklyn, New York, and I’m hoping that Peter Grossman, a Wall Street star, will pop out of his posh brownstone for a jog or a cup of joe. Then I can jump him. He’s on the look-out for me because I’d already jumped his crony, Goldfinger, the man who’s making Grossman stunningly rich.
Grossman’s riches, nearly $100 million for his firm, FG Management, come from the Congo. I was just there in Congo, two days before this stake-out, at a cholera quarantine center in the capital, Kinshasa.
Besides lots of cholera, Congo has lots of cobalt. Grossman has, through a crazy legal loophole in British law, waylaid a payment of $80 million to the African government for a shipment of cobalt from a government-owned mine.
Grossman is a “vulture,” the name Wall Street gives, …more
Vultures Picnic comes out today – and here’s why I’m asking you, no joke, to get it TODAY, or this week at the LATEST. Do that, and I’m once again on the bestseller list, top of Amazon. 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. You 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 SHORTS and two audio tracks that are embedded in the “amplified” or “enhanced” versions. 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: this is my best book yet, by far. The best read.
That’s because I take you with me on the weird, horrific and darkly humorous investigations of 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. Right now it’s totally occupied by Bill O’Reilly and his ilk. Ugh! Don’t let these weasels think we’re illiterate. Jam Vultures’ Picnic right down the media’s throat.
Afraid of commitment? Then read the first chapter, free, no charge, online or download. Pass it around. If you don’t like it, I’ll refund your money. (Yes, it’s free …but you get the point.)
What are you waiting for? Dick Cheney to shoot you in the face?
Vultures’ Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores. 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 Vultures’ Picnic: 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 “Islamic Republic of BP.” Stopping in London, the deathly ill MI6 double-agent Leslie the Bagman lays out the history of the coup d’etat, hooker-bait and the $30 million “sweetener” paid by Lord Browne to the oil nation’s “president””“”“and suggests we find his old spy-mate, Natasha.
In the middle of this Byzantine maze, I’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.]
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 a 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 fat welfare state, they run riot, screaming in the streets, busting windows and burning banks.
I don’t buy it. I don’t buy it because of the document in my hand marked, “RESTRICTED DISTRIBUTION.”
I’ll cut to the indictment: Greece is a crime scene. The people are victims of a fraud, a scam, a hustle and a flim-flam. And — cover the children’s ears when I say this — a bank named Goldman Sachs is holding the smoking gun.
In 2002, Goldman Sachs secretly bought up a 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 stupid – like a fox. The deal was a con, with Goldman making up a phony-baloney exchange rate for the transaction. Why?
Goldman had cut a secret deal with the Greek government in power then. Their game: to conceal a massive budget deficit. Goldman’s fake loss was the Greek government’s fake gain.
Goldman would get repayment of its “loss” 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 isn’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. Investors’ went berserk, demanding monster interest rates to lend more money to roll over this debt.
Greece’s panicked bondholders rushed to buy insurance against the nation going bankrupt. The price of the bond-bust insurance, called a credit default swap (or CDS), also shot through the roof. Who made a big pile selling the CDS insurance? 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. In 2007, at the same time banks were selling suspect CDS’s and CDOs (packaged sub-prime mortgage securities), Goldman held a “net short” position against these securities. That is, Goldman was betting their financial “products” would end up in the toilet. Goldman picked up 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. Blamed and soaked for the cost of it. The “spread” on Greek bonds (the term used for the risk premium paid on Greece’s corrupted debt) has now risen to – get ready for this — $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? What the heck was in the “RESTRICTED” document? And why did I have to take it to Geneva, to throw it 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 grateful President of Ecuador?
To give you all the answers would require me to write a book. I have: Vultures’ Picnic — 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. That’s a funny statement, I suppose, from an author. But if you’ve been reading my stories in The Guardian or watching my reports on 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 full picture of The Beasts. The Beasts and their trophy wives, intelligence agency go-fers, political concubines and bone-breakers. And besides, it’s enormous fun when it’s not scary as sh*t.
Here’s a taste of Chapter 12 – The Generalissimo of Globalization – from the film-enhanced eBook edition. [And more on the 1% Greece-ing us, check out the upcoming issue of In These Times.]
Note: 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, San 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 first chapter of my new book Vultures’ 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 One Percent. 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.