London, February 2002. A tiny, dark and intense woman waited at the end of a lecture until I was alone, brought her face strangely close to mine and whispered, “President Chavez needs you. Right now. To Caracas. Right now. You must come to see him.” President Who? All I knew about this Hugo Chavez guy was that he was an Latin-American jefe, led a bungled coup and was filled with a lot of populist bullshit and a lot of oil.
For BBC Television, Palast met several times with Hugo Chavez, who passed away today.
As a purgative for the crappola fed to Americans about Chavez, my foundation, The Palast Investigative Fund, is offering the film, The Assassination of Hugo Chavez, as a FREE download. Based on my several meetings with Chavez, his kidnappers and his would-be assassins, filmed for BBC Television. DVDs also available.
Media may contact Palast at interviews (at) gregpalast.com.
Venezuelan President Chavez once asked me why the US elite wanted to kill him. My dear Hugo: It’s the oil. And it’s the Koch Brothers – and it’s the ketchup.
Reverend Pat Robertson said,
“Hugo Chavez thinks we’re trying to assassinate him. I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.” …more
Vulture fund’s $100m DR Congo claim blocked By Meirion Jones BBC Newsnight
Bid to block $100m ‘vulture’ debt
The Privy Council has ruled that a “vulture fund” cannot collect $100m from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The award was against Congo’s state-owned mining company Gecamines who successfully appealed to the Privy Council in London.
FG Hemisphere deny any wrongdoing.
Nick Dearden, Director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: “We welcome the fact that these funds will not flow into the coffers of a secretive vulture fund which tries to unfairly profit from the past debt distress of impoverished countries.
Vulture funds, also known as “distressed debt” investors, buy up the debt of poor nations cheaply when it is about to be written off and then sue countries such as Zambia or Liberia or DRC for the full value of the debt plus interest which can be ten or 100 times what they paid for it.
They pursue any companies which do business with their target country in courts around the world and try to force them to pay money to the fund instead of the country.
Critics say this holds poor countries to ransom and prevents them trading their way out of poverty rather than relying on aid. Until 2010 they often sued in the UK but Britain effectively made vulture funds illegal that year after the Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson …more
The Justice Department went big game hunting and bagged a teeny-weeny scapegoat. More like a scape-kid, really.
Today, Justice arrested former BP engineer Kurt Mix for destroying evidence in the Deepwater Horizon blow-out.
I once ran a Justice Department racketeering case and damned if I would have ‘cuffed some poor schmuck like Mix — especially when there’s hot, smoking guns showing greater crimes by BP higher ups.
Last week, I released evidence we uncovered that BP top executives concealed evidence of a prior blow-out. Had they not covered up the 2008 blow-out in then Caspian Sea, then the Deepwater Horizon probably would not have blown out two years later in 2010. [Watch the film and read the stories.]
I urge you to read the affidavit of FBI agent Barbara O’Donnell which the government filed in arresting Mix. His crime is deleting texts from his phone indicating that the blown-out Macondo well was gushing over 15,000 barrels of oil a day, not 5,000 as BP told the public and government. If true, it’s a crime, destruction of evidence. But Mix is a minnow. What about the sharks? The texts were obviously sent to someone (named only “SUPERVISOR” by the FBI). If “Supervisor” knew, then undoubtedly so did BP managers higher up. Presumably, even CEO Tony Hayward would have gotten the message on his racing yacht.
Destruction of evidence is not nice, but concealment of evidence and fraud by corporate bigs, is the bigger crime. I hope, I assume, I demand that we find out what Supervisor’s supervisors knew and when they knew it — and didn’t tell us.
And far, far, far more important: when is the Justice Department going to go after the greater wrongdoing? Let’s begin with the cover-up before the spill that the drilling methods used on the Deepwater Horizon had led to a blow-out nearly two years earlier.
Let’s face it: to go after the bigger crime means going after the entire industry. The earlier blow-out was concealed by BP as well as its partners Exxon and Chevron and, by the US State Department under Condoleezza Rice. [If you want to get that story, please check out Part II: BP Covered Up Prior Oil Spill at Ecowatch.org.]
One point in Mr. Mix’s defense. During my investigation of the Deepwater Horizon, I found that employees who provide evidence against BP find their careers floating face down in the Gulf.
BP and other oil companies punish troublemakers by writing “NRB” on their record. That means “Not Required Back” — and the worker is banned from the offshore rigs. No doubt, Mr. Mix thought long and hard about what would happen to his career if his texts came to light. Not an excuse for crime, but it’s a fact. It’s the guys on top putting on this kind of pressure that should be doing the perp walk: the Big Bad BP Wolves, not their mixxed-up scapegoat.
Re-prints permitted with credit to Greg Palast
Greg Palast is the author of Vultures’ Picnic, which centers on his investigation of BP, bribery and corruption in the oil industry. Palast’s, reports can be seen on BBC-TV and Britain’s Channel 4.
You can read Vultures’ Picnic, “Chapter 1: Goldfinger,” or download it, at no charge: click here.
How the Election Games are fixed by the Koch gang, Karl Rove and their buck-buddies
Part 1 – THE GAME
In the Beginning
In early 2010, a man named Karl Rove met with a financier known as the Ice Man. The billionaire had more than his share of legal and political troubles. Rove told him he had a plan to defeat Barack Obama and seize control of Congress for the GOP.
The Ice Man said, “I’m in,” and handed over a check for $20 million.
And Ice Man promised more.
“Karl is the best political mind out there,” he said.
Way out there. 2012: Ballots Up the Congo
How I ended up here, up the Congo River, hunting for missing ballots in the US presidential election, well, that’s a story in itself. I’ll get to that.
But first, I have to take you deep into the Heart of Darkness, Washington DC, where, in 2004, this same Karl Rove arranged for his pudgy little poodle to take on a terrible and cruel assignment. The poodle, Tim Griffin, had the small hands, small mind and small heart perfectly suited for the job of re-electing the President, by hook or crook. Mostly crook.
Rove, then Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush, said,
“We are beginning to look like we have elections like those run in countries where the guys in charge are, you know, colonels in mirrored glasses.”
Rick Perry’s right when he says, “Something’s wrong when gays can serve openly in the military but kids can’t pray openly in school.”
What’s wrong is that they’re missing their copies of Vultures’ Picnic. In fact, once my twins took a copy of Vultures’ Picnic to school, all the kids began praying openly – for an end to cuts in the school budget!
Want to roast Rick Perry’s chestnuts on an open fire?
[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
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.
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.
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.
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
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. …
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.) …more
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.
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
Vultures defend themselves by vomiting on their enemies. In Britain last week, terrified vultures puked up a Tory MP named Christopher Chope.
Two weeks ago, the day after the 25 February broadcast of our investigation on BBC Television of financial vultures preying on the world’s poorest nations, the British Parliament voted to effectively put them out of business in the UK. A rare victory for victims.
But last Friday, MP Chope used a Parliamentary gimmick to kill the bill.
Chope, I should say, has not confessed to the deed. The cowardly little piece of vulture puke would not admit he’d put the knife in the back of the law. However, vulture vomit has a truly vile stench, impossible to wash off; so activists were able to sniff him out.
Vulture funds buy up Third World nations’ debts at pennies on the dollar then sue these nations for ten or a hundred times what the funds paid for the securities. The Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill would have barred vultures from using UK courts.
Whether the law ultimately takes effect may depend on the outcome of the UK election. Though all parties in the UK back the anti-vulture law, the Conservatives’ commitment is apparently hobbled by some of their members’ preference for dining on the dead.
When I was in West Africa in February, I met with former UN diplomat Winston Tubman, who asked the vultures, “Don’t you know you are causing babies to die all over Liberia?”
Will the honorable MP Mr. Chope answer the question?
Greg Palast’s investigations can be seen on BBC Television Newsnight. Sign up to receive Palast’s reports at www.GregPalast.com…more
A week ago Friday, the day after BBC Television broadcast of our investigative report on Liberia vultures, Britain’s Parliament voted to put an end to the creepy business of financial “vultures” who siphon off aid money through manipulating Third World nations’ debt.
And our prior report on financial tricksters, on Democracy Now!, motivated two congressmen to confront the President personally, in the Oval Office with our findings. And now legislation has jets on in the USA.
We’ve kicked vulture butt, but now we need new boots.
This isn’t the easiest time to be an investigative reporter and I am damn sure it’s not the easiest time for you to be supporting folks like our tiny but tough Palast team. So, I wanted to be sure to let you know what YOUR support has accomplished.
These accomplishments are real, but so are the bills for airfare, for the car for the stake-out, for the special microphones, for the … you name it.
BBC TV is a wonderful and prestigious outlet for our work. But “Beeb” budgets simply can’t cover all our costs. We can’t fly to Africa by flapping our arms.
Democracy Now! shows our stuff; we love them – but it’s you, our supporters, who pay our subway fares to Amy’s studio.
That’s why – for the first time this decade – I’m asking you to help keep our work alive with your financial support.
Here are a few ideas on how to do it: If you can contribute $150 or more, I’ll send you signed copies of 5 great DVDs … perfect for Mother’s day, graduations, easter baskets, May Day celebrations, Bingo prizes, or better yet, to spread the word.
Click here, make the tax-deductible donation, and I’ll sign’em all.
When our investigative team pulled the pants down on Karl Rove’s vote “caging” scam, Congressman John Conyers, who made our disclosures central to Congressional hearings on Bush’s firing of prosecutors told our crew, “America owes you an huge debt of thanks.”
I appreciate that; but we still owe the credit card company for the dozen flights to get on the scene to film the Rove-bots.
New! We are now offering you, the option to donate by getting The Palast Gift Card. Redeemable at our store by the lucky recipient.
Available again!Joker’s Wild, my classic, tarot-size investigative playing cards. Beautiful and great fun.
Better yet for us and maybe a little less burdensome to you, sign up for a modest monthly pledge of as little as $10. You will receive all new Palast releases – books or videos, as they become available. I will also mention you as a supporter in my next book (you may, of course, choose not to).
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If you’ve beaten the odds and had a great year, consider becoming a co-Producer by making a donation of $1,000 or more. If you do, I will list your name in our next film’s credits. Wait until your friends see that on your Google profile!
Greg Palast is an investigative reporter for BBC Newsnight and the author of Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Subscribe to Palast’s Newsletter and podcasts. Follow Palast on Facebook and Twitter.