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

Greg Palast 

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

Romney’s Auto Bail-out Billionaires

Greg Palast 

Top funders made billions from US Treasury

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.

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.”

***
Greg Palast has been investigating vulture speculator Paul Singer for BBC Television Newsnight and Britain’s Guardian for five years. The investigative reporter is author of Vultures’ Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores and the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. For reports on Singer and vulture funds, go to www.GregPalast.com and www.VulturesPicnic.org.

You can follow Palast on twitter at Greg_Palast and find him on facebook at Greg Palast.

Occupy Wall Street comes home to roost with Congo’s ‘debt vultures’

Greg Palast 

Nowhere are the ill-gotten gains of the 1% more grossly apparent than in the activities of ‘debt vulture’ hedge funds

As published by The Guardian America


This article is the subject of a legal complaint from Peter Grossman.


Photo by Zach Roberts © 2011

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.

A “vulture” is a financial speculator who, as we recently reported, gets his hands on debts owed by desperately poor nations. The Brooklyn “vulture” targeted by OWS and Friends of the Congo is Peter Grossman. Two weeks ago, the Guardian exposed him as a financier who is demanding the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the world’s poorest nation, pay $100m to the hedge fund he manages, FG Hemisphere.

Grossman, tipped off about the demonstration, …more

Goldfinger eats Congo

Greg Palast 

Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!…

“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

This is the moment to make the 1% cry

Greg Palast 

I’m putting it to you bluntly:

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.

– Greg Palast

Escape from Lady Baba-land

Greg Palast 

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.]

From Chapter 2: “Lady Baba-land.”

But we’re not leaving. …more

Uber-Vultures: The Billionaires Who Would Pick Our President

Greg Palast 

The untold story of the sources of the loot controlled by Paul “The Vulture” Singer, Ken Langone and the Kochs — and why they need to buy the White House

For TruthOut/Buzzflash

Greg Palast’s investigative reports are broadcast by BBC Television’s Newsnight. His new book, Vultures’ Picnic: a Tale of Oil, Sex, Radiation and Investigative Reporting will be released by Penguin USA on November 14.

[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.

Singer has called together the billionaire boys club for the purpose of picking our next president for us. The old fashioned way of choosing presidents – democracy and counting ballots and all that – has never been a favorite of this pack. I can tell you that from my investigations of each of these gentlemen for The Guardian. When the Statue of Liberty has nightmares, she dreams that these guys will combine to seize America via a cash-and-carry coup d’etat. …more

Not Another Ransom Note
from Congressman Boehner

Greg Palast 

 

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.  What you’ll see is that, while the debt-ceiling hostage crisis played out on cable TV, the planet has been burning down.

You haven’t heard a lot from me this year-because the normally-noisy Palast investigations team has chosen to spend these months quietly digging into unreported cases of economic and environmental arson.  It will all hit the presses and TV when we launch a new book and films later this year.

But the investigations continue at full tilt:

#1. Too Far Beyond Petroleum. …more

Strauss-Kahn Screws Africa

Greg Palast 

For The Guardian

Now that I’ve dispensed with the obvious and obnoxious teaser headline, let’s drop the towel and expose Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s history of arrogant abuse. The truth is, the grandee of the IMF has molested Africans for years.

On Wednesday, the New York Times ran five – count’em, FIVE – stories on Strauss-Kahn, Director-General of the International Monetary Fund. According to the Paper of Record, the charges against “DSK,” as he’s known in France, are in “contradiction” to his “charm” and “accomplishments” at the IMF.

Au contraire, mes chers lecteurs.

Director-General DSK’s cruelty, arrogance and impunity toward African and other nations as generalissimo of the IMF is right in line with the story told by the poor, African hotel housekeeper in New York City.

Let’s consider how the housekeeper from Guinea ended up here in New York. In 2002, this single mother was granted asylum. What drove her here?

It began with the IMF rape of Guinea.

…more

BP’s Secret Deepwater Blowout

Greg Palast 

Exclusive for Truthout/Buzzflash

Greg Palast investigating BP’s blowout in the Caspian, Baku, Azerbaijan 2010.

Only 17 months before BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig suffered a deadly blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP deepwater oil platform also blew out.

You’ve heard and seen much about the Gulf disaster that killed 11 BP workers. If you have not heard about the earlier blowout, it’s because BP has kept the full story under wraps. Nor did BP inform Congress or US safety regulators, and BP, along with its oil industry partners, have preferred to keep it that way.

The earlier blowout occurred in September 2008 on BP’s Central Azeri platform in the Caspian Sea.

As one memo marked “secret” puts it, “Given the explosive potential, BP was quite fortunate to have been able to evacuate everyone safely and to prevent any gas ignition.” The Caspian oil platform was a spark away from exploding, but luck was with the 211 rig workers.

…more

Palast Arrested

Greg Palast 

Post from Monday, December 20, 2010

BP’s Azeri police arresting Palast for filming BP oil rig – Baku, Azerbaijan, December 2010

“Here in Azerbaijan we believe in human rights. PLEASE GIVE US YOUR FILM.”

Oh, no, no, not good.

The enforcers here come in three colors:  the military police still wearing their old Russian puke-green uniforms, the MSN (the dictator’s secret police) in windbreakers without ID, and BP’s own corporate police force in black tunics, sashes and full hats who look like toy soldiers from the Nutcracker ballet. They weren’t dancing.

I showed all three flavors of police our press credentials in both English and Azeri, neither of which could be read by the officers. (The dictator had suddenly changed the Azeri alphabet, making most of the nation illiterate overnight.)

The dictator made everyone call him, “Baba,” Grandpa.

…more

Tokyo Electric to Build US Nuclear Plants
The no-BS info on Japan’s disastrous nuclear operators

Greg Palast 

for Truthout/Buzzflash

by Greg Palast

Texas plants planned by Tokyo Electric. Image:NINA

I need to speak to you, not as a reporter, but in my former capacity as lead investigator in several government nuclear plant fraud and racketeering investigations.

I don’t know the law in Japan, so I can’t tell you if Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) can plead insanity to the homicides about to happen.

But what will Obama plead?  The Administration, just months ago, asked Congress to provide a $4 billion loan guarantee for two new nuclear reactors to be built and operated on the Gulf Coast of Texas – by Tokyo Electric Power and local partners.  As if the Gulf hasn’t suffered enough.
…more

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.

…more

Heart of Coal

Greg Palast 

From Armed Madhouse

We’ve seen this dreadful movie before. In 2005, another coal mine in West Virginia imploded. We wrote about it then ….

War is hell, especially class war. Just ask the Sago mine workers. Billionaire Wilbur Ross purchased Sago of West Virginia in November 2005 through International Coal Group.

In the first six weeks under Ross’ company’s ownership, the Sago mine suffered two roof collapses. Ross said that, “We were comfortable, based on the assurances from our management that they felt that it was a safe situation.” Safe financially, maybe, but a third roof collapse in January 2006 caused twelve miners to suffocate.

Wilbur Ross – the man Fortune Magazine dubbed “a revered vulture investor” – has a heart. In light of the tragedy, Ross has asked Americans to donate to victims’ families. I don’t know, however, if you should send your money to his home in Palm Beach, or the one in the Hamptons or the one on Fifth Avenue.

From Armed Madhouse, the updated edition, by Greg Palast. Hear excerpts from the bestseller read by Amy Goodman, Larry David and Randi Rhodes here.

Vulture Financier Attacks
Banned in Britain

Greg Palast 

April 8 – London – Update for In These Times

We’ve stuffed the bird and nailed it to the wall: Today, the British Parliament effectively banned financial vulture funds from the British Isles. The law, merely awaits the expected touch of the Queen’s scepter.

“Vulture funds” are international re-po men who buy up old debt of the world’s poorest nations for pennies on the dollar, then sue for ten to a hundred times what they paid for these old loans. The new UK law, passed unanimously, would would bar financiers from using UK courts to collect more than the sums authorized by the International Monetary Fund. In effect, this stops American predators – such as financiers Eric Hermann, Michael Straus, and Michael Francis “Goldfinger” Sheehan, from siphoning tens of millions of dollars of aid money the US and UK treasuries had earmarked for Liberia, Zambia, Congo and other desperately poor countries.

The first vote in the House of Commons to ban vultures took place on February 26, the day after BBC broadcast our investigation of Vulture Eric Hermann (see it here), but maneuvers by a Conservative MP appeared to have de-railed the law.

In the US Congress, Congresswoman Maxine Waters is sponsoring the Stop VULTURE Funds Act H.R. 2932), whose passage may have to wait upon the election of a Democrat to the White House.

For the original story, see Stop Feeding the Vultures in In These Times.

Manchurian Candidates:
Supreme Court allows China and others

unlimited spending in US elections

Greg Palast 

Updated from the original report for AlterNet

In today’s Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Court ruled that corporations should be treated the same as “natural persons”, i.e. humans. Well, in that case, expect the Supreme Court to next rule that Wal-Mart can run for President.

The ruling, which junks federal laws that now bar corporations from stuffing campaign coffers, will not, as progressives fear, cause an avalanche of corporate cash into politics. Sadly, that’s already happened: we have been snowed under by tens of millions of dollars given through corporate PACs and “bundling” of individual contributions from corporate pay-rollers.

The Court’s decision is far, far more dangerous to U.S. democracy. Think: Manchurian candidates.

…more

The S-Word and Dr. Kevorkian’s Accountant

Health care Rx from my socialist fire department

Greg Palast 

t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

Greg Palast interviews Wendell Potter
News flash: Wendell Potter tells Greg Palast why the insurance industry is secretly licking its chops over the Health Care bill.

 Tell me where it hurts, Mr. President.

What’s killing you, Barack, is what’s killing us all: an evil germ called “Medical Loss Ratio.”

“Medical Loss Ratio” [MLR] is the fancy term used by health insurance companies for their slice, their take-out, their pound of flesh, their gross – very gross – profit.

The “MLR” is the difference between what you pay an insurance company and what that insurer pays out to doctors, hospitals and pharmacists for your medical care.

I’ve totted it up from the raw stats: The “MLR,” insurance companies’ margins, is about to top – holy mama! – a quarter trillion dollars a year. That’s $2.7 trillion over the next decade.

Until the 1990’s, insurers skimmed only about a nickel on the dollar for their “service,” Wendell Potter told me. Potter is the CIGNA insurance company PR man who came in from the cold to tell us about what goes down inside the health insurance gold mine. Today, Potter notes (and I’ve checked his accuracy), porky operators like AIG have kicked up their Loss Ratio by nearly 500 percent.
…more