The fires in Greece are an EU/euro Dresden: a direct result of requiring the Greek government to end its brush-clearing program and slash government employment and infrastructure. The EU always puts banks ...more
Greek journalist Michael Nevradakis and US investigative journalist Greg Palast have a different take on the Greek â€˜Noâ€™ vote against Europeâ€™s cruel austerity demands.
By Michael Nevradakis in Athens with Greg Palast in New YorkÂ | Â Oped-News
Not surprisingly, by nearly two-to-one, Greeks have overwhelmingly rejected the cruel, economically bonkers â€œausterityâ€ program required by the European Central Bank in return for an ECB loan to pay Greeceâ€™s creditors. In doing so, the Greek people overcame an unprecedented campaign of fear from the Greek and international media, the European Union (EU), and most of our political parties.
Whatâ€™s simply whack-o is that, while voting â€œNoâ€ to austerity, many Greeks wish to remain shackled to the euro, the very cause of our miseries.
Resistance, not Crisis
Before we explain how the euro is the cause of this horror show, letâ€™s clear up one thing right away. All week, worldwide media was filled with news of the Greek â€œcrisis.â€ Yes, the economy stinks, with one in four Greeks unemployed. But two other euro nations, Spain and Cyprus, also are suffering this depression level of unemployment. Indeed, more than 11% of workers in seven euro nations, including Portugal and Italy, are out of work.
But unlike Greece, these other suffering nations have quietly acquiesced to their â€œausterityâ€ punishments. Spaniards now accept that they are fated forevermore to be low-paid servants to beer-barfing British tourists. Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, who has enacted a draconian protest ban at home to keep his own suffering masses at bay, has joined in the jackal-pack rejecting anything but the harshest of austerity terms for Greece.
The difference between these quiescent nations and Greece is that the Greeks wonâ€™t take it anymore.
What the media calls the Greek â€œcrisisâ€ is, in fact, resistance.
Resistance to nowhere
But itâ€™s a resistance whose leaders are leading them nowhere.
For decades, Greeks have suffered governments that are both corrupt and dishonest. The election of SYRIZA changed all that: the government is now merely dishonest.
Our new SYRIZA Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, correctly called the austerity plan â€œblackmail.â€ However, before Sundayâ€™s vote, Tsipras told the nation …more
From Greg Palastâ€™s investigative reports for Greek and US news
Europe is stunned, and bankers aghast, that the new party of the Left, Syriza, won Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Greece.
Syriza won on the promise that it will cure Greece of leprosy.
“To me, Greece is a crime scene,” said Palast. “Greece is dying, and austerity is one of the things that killed it.” He rebuked the recent proclamations made by Greek and EU officials deeming Greece an economic “success story,” describing them as “nonsense.”
Here’s what we’re told:Â 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. Â I don’t buy it because …more
By Greg Palast forÂ Ï„Î¿ Ï‡Ï‰Î½Î¯Â (Greece)
[updated January 26, 2015]
Syriza won on the promise that it will cure Greece of leprosy.
Oddly, Syriza also promises that it will remain in the leper colony.Â That is, Syriza wants to rid Greece of the cruelty of austerity imposed by the European Central Bank but insists on staying in the euro zone.
The problem is, austerity run wild is merely a symptom of an illness. Â The underlying disease is the euro itself.
For the last five years, Greeks have been told that, if you cure your diseaseâ€”that is, if you dump the euroâ€”the sky will fall.Â I guess Greeks havenâ€™t noticed, the sky has fallen already.Â With unemployment at 25%, with doctors and teachers eating out of garbage cans, there is no further to fall.
In 2010, when unemployment was a terrible 10%, a year into the crisis, the â€œTroikaâ€ (the European Central Bank, European Commission and the International Monetary Fund) told the GreeksÂ that brutal austerity measures would restore their economy by 2012.
Ask yourself, Was the Troika right?
There is a saying in America:Â Fool me once, shame on you.Â Fool me twice, shame on me.
Can Greece survive without the euro?Â Greece is already dead, but the Germans wonâ€™t even bother to bury …more
Vulture investor Paul Singer has forced the nation of Argentina into default. Hereâ€™s the real story, from Billionaires & Ballot Bandits by Greg Palast.
A call came in from New York to my bosses at BBC Television Centre, London. It was from one of the knuckle- draggers on the payroll of billionaire Paul Singer, Number One funder for the Republican Party in New York, million-dollar donor to the Mitt Romney super-PAC, and top money-giver to the GOP Senate campaign fund. But better known to us as Singer The Vulture.
â€œWe have a file on Greg Palast.â€
Well, of course they do.
And I have a file on them.
I had just returned from traveling up the Congo River for BBC and the Guardian. Singerâ€™s enforcer indicated that Mr. Singer would prefer BBC not run a story about himâ€” especially not with film of his suffering prey: children, cholera victims.
Like any vulture, Singer feasts when victims die. Literally. For example, Singer made a pile buying asbestos company Owens Corning out of bankruptcy. The company had concealed from its workers they would get asbestosis from handling their product.
You donâ€™t want to die of asbestosis. Your lungs turn to mush and you drown inside yourself.
The asbestos company was forced to pay tens of thousands of its workers for their medical care and for their families after their deaths.
But then Singer used his political muscle to screw down the compensation promised to the workers. He offered them peanuts. And, dying, they took it. Like the Ice Man, Singer The Vulture used the cudgel of â€œtort reformâ€ to beat the weakened workers into submission. With asbestos workers buried or bought-off cheap, Singerâ€™s asbestos death factories were …more
On September 18, hip-hop artist Pavlos Fyssas, a.k.a. Killah P, was stabbed outside a bar in Keratsini, Greece.
Larry Summers has an air-tight alibi.Â But I don’t believe it.
Larry didnâ€™t hold the knife:Â The confessed killer is some twisted member of Golden Dawn, a political party made up of skin-head freaks, anti-immigrant fear-mongers, anti-Muslim/ anti-Semitic/ anti-Albanian sociopaths and ultra-patriot fruitcakes.Â Think of it as the Tea Party goes Greek.
Following Fyssasâ€™ killing, other groups of dangerous psychopathic misfits, namely the European Union and Greeceâ€™s governing coalition, moved to ban Golden Dawn.
Over the weekend, Greeceâ€™s rulers arrested six members of Parliament who belong to Golden Dawn.Â Apparently, Greeceâ€™s political leaders prefer …more
By Michael Nevradakis for Truthout
In his career as an investigative journalist, economist, and bestselling author –Vultures’ Picnic, Billionaires and Ballot Bandits, The Best Democracy Money Can BuyÂ – Greg Palast has not been afraid to tackle some of the most powerful names in politics and finance.
From uncovering Katherine Harris’ purge of African-American voters from Florida’s voter rolls in the year 2000 to revealing the truth behind the “assistance” provided by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to ailing economies, Palast has not held back in revealing the corruption and criminal actions of the wealthy and powerful.
In a recent interview on Dialogos Radio, Palast turned his attention to Greece and to the austerity policies that have been imposed on the country by …more
For Vice Magazine
It wasn’t too difficult picking out the Fat Bastard in the crowd of Russian models, craven moochers and media mavens. Besides, Fat Bastard and I were both desperate for coffee and heading for the same empty urn.
(We’d both signed on for Kazakhstan’s annual Eurasia Media Forum, a kind of Burning Man festival for Eastern oilgarchs and their media camp followers.)
Now, it is my policy never to mention an interlocutor’s weight, nor question the legitimacy of their birth, given my own vulnerabilities. (A would-be groupie told me, “You could do a few sit-ups, you know.” Yes, I know.)
But this particular Fat Bastard is asking for it. I had tried to put the belly of this beast out of my thoughts, but I still had a New York Times story folded in my pocket that begins:
ATHENS â€“ As an elementary school principal, Leonidas Nikas is used to seeing children play, laugh and dream about the future. But recently he has seen something altogether different, something he thought was impossible in Greece: children picking through school trash cans for food; needy youngsters asking playmates for leftovers; and an 11-year-old boy, Pantelis Petrakis, bent over with hunger pains.
Fat Bastard â€“ or Theodoros Pangalos, thinks the little Greek kiddies should …more
by Greg Palast | The Guardian USA
The idea that the euro has “failed” is dangerously naive. The euro is doing exactly what its progenitor â€“ and the wealthy 1%-ers who adopted it â€“ 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 PalastÂ for In These Times
Here’s what we’re told:
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.
This is an adaptation of an excerpt from Vultures’ Picnic, Greg Palast’s new book, out next week, an investigator’s pursuit of petroleum pigs, power pirates and high-finance fraudsters. ReadÂ the first chapter or just get the book here.
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.
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 â€“ count’em, FIVE â€“ 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.