This clip is from Greg Palast’s film Vultures and Vote Rustlers which you can download for FREE this week
Six years ago today, 11 members of the Deepwater Horizon Crew were still alive. The Gulf of Mexico, thanks to decades of dredging by the oil companies was a slowly growing disaster – but it was still a tourist destination and a source of jobs for thousands of fishermen.
All this week we’ll be sharing the investigations that we did on British Petroleum’s disaster and its international fallout – including the one that could have foretold the April 20th blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.
A RUBBER DINGHY OFF THE GULF COAST, MISSISSIPPI, OCTOBER 2010
This was my first investigation of fish homicide, so I figured Rick and I needed a boat because Professor Steiner’s submarine had just cleared the Panama Canal and wouldn’t arrive in time for our filming.
However, Badpenny couldn’t hook up a canoe, let alone a skiff, because BP had put every Coon-Ass captain on its payroll for the oil clean-up, which mostly involved floating around looking busy when CNN showed up. BP would have to OK our taking one of their indentured boats, and BP never said OK unless they controlled the fish story. …more
It’s not news to anyone who follows my work that big oil likes to use their financial sway in higher education. Back in 2009 I wrote about the Deputy Director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, Ivor Van Heerden who was pushed out of his job when he started talking too much about how Big Oil helped drown New Orleans.
I don’t get to use the word “heroic” very often. Van Heerden is heroic. It was van Heerden who told me, on camera, something so horrible, so frightening, that,…more
Damn that Abe Lincoln. When Louisiana and Mississippi seceded from the Union, a sensible president would have sent them a box of chocolates with a note, “Goodbye and good riddance.”
Tonight, following Barack Obama’s budget presentation to Congress, effectively the president’s first State of the Union Address, the Republicans chose to give their party’s response, the governor of the state that wanted to leave the Union, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal.
Jindal told us that Barack Obama is a terrible President who passed a stimulus bill “larded with wasteful spending.” Where’s the lard? All week, Jindal has been screeching that Obama wants to require states like Louisiana to extend unemployment insurance to – get this – the unemployed! (Technically, the federal government would pay 100% of the cost of reforming Louisiana’s and Mississippi’s Scrooge-sized benefit requirements.)
Jindal, and some other Republican governors, notably Haley Barbour of Mississippi, are actually turning down millions in federal funds for their own state’s unemployed out of fear that, four years from now, they may have to maintain full unemployment insurance like the rest of America.
Barbour’s excuse, parroted by Jindal, is that the Obama payments to the unemployed of their states would mean, when the economy returns to expansion, that their state would have to increase unemployment insurance taxes and payments to the US average, scaring away new employers. “I mean, we want more jobs,” says Barbour. Um, this is the Governor of MISSISSIPPI talking. Exactly what new “jobs” is he talking about? Is Microsoft is based in Gulfport? Is Genentech opening its new headquarters in Moss Point?
As an economist, I can tell you that the only industry Mississippi leads in is deep-fried chicken-dog manufacturing. I will admit that Louisiana and Mississippi can boast of growing employment at several …more
[Thurs August 30] “They wanted them poor niggers out of there and they ain’t had no intention to allow it to be reopened to no poor niggers, you know? And that’s just the bottom line.”
It wasn’t a pretty statement. But I wasn’t looking for pretty. I’d taken my investigative team to New Orleans to meet with Malik Rahim. Pretty isn’t Malik’s concern.
We needed an answer to a weird, puzzling and horrific discovery. Among the miles and miles of devastated houses, rubble still there today in New Orleans, we found dry, beautiful homes. But their residents were told by guys dressed like Ninjas wearing “Blackwater” badges: “Try to go into your home and we’ll arrest you.”
These aren’t just any homes. They are the public housing projects of the city; the …more
It’s been two years already. If they had lived in Bangladesh during the tsunami, they’d be back home. But in New Orleans USA, more than half the original residents have not, CAN NOT, return to “The City That Care Forgot.” Now, in Big Easy to Big Empty, our investigative documentary re-released this week, meet the people that EVERYONE forgot. – Stephen Smith who had no car, and no way to evacuate New Orleans. He tells us his devastating story of being left behind, closing the eyes of an old man who died while waiting to be rescued on a bridge, watching helicopters soar pass overhead, and no one coming to rescue him or the dozens stranded with him, on that bridge, for days. After the storm it took him 3 months to find his children. He is currently working in a grocery store in Houston and wants to come back to New Orleans but has no place to live.
– Ivor Van Heerden, Deputy Director of Louisiana State University’s Hurricane Center reveals who knew what and when — before, during, and after the storm — and warns that his job is in danger for telling us his story.
“FEMA knew at eleven o’clock on Monday that the levees had breached, at 2 o’clock they flew over the 17th St. Canal and took video of the breaches, by midnight on Monday the White House knew, but none of us knew.”
– Brod Bagert, Former New Orleans’ City Councilman and lawyer takes us to a neighbor’s house where 5 bodies were found after the storm — in the back yard we find the levees that were supposed to protect the city from flooding; the levees that were supposed to protect the people who died here.
“Old ladies watched as water came up to their nose, over their eyes, and they drowned in houses just like this, in this neighborhood because of reckless negligence that is unanswered for.”
– Pamela Lewis, who had guns shoved in her face when she tried to evacuate with her 86 year old mother, has now been relocated over 100 miles from the city to one of FEMA’s giant trailer parks fenced in with barbed-wire and has lived there for 9 months. The trailer park is in a field literally in the middle of nowhere behind an Exxon Oil Refinery — the only bus available for residents goes only to Wal-Mart.
“It is a prison set-up. I’ve never been to the bottom of the barrel until I came here.”
– Patricia Thomas who broke her teeth while trying to evacuate is now homeless and is locked out of her public housing unit in the Lafitte housing project near the French Quarter. We go with her as she enters her blockaded apartment (which she now plans to illegally occupy) and find that it was not damaged by the flooding and could be re-opened within a week’s time.
“Katrina didn’t do this. Man did this. This was man made.”
– Malik Rahim, Director of Common Ground who is building communities aimed at bringing people back to New Orleans with affordable housing, collectives, and job-placement assistance.
“If we could do it – we could take a thousand people and house them in a humane way, why can’t the federal government do it?”
– Henry Irving Sr., home-owner in the Lower 9th Ward. His entire neighborhood has been completely destroyed, hardly anyone has returned, and those that have returned have been told not to — and yet Mr. Irving plans to stay.
“That’s what they want us to do. They want us to get discouraged and to leave. I’m going to stay here long enough to see it come back.”
Big Easy to Big Empty: The Untold Story of the Drowning of New Orleans.
“One of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen.” – Christiane Brown, Air America Radio.
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A very, very, special thanks to our Associate Producers on this particular story — without their generosity and support this report would not have been possible:
Greg Palast, Writer & Reporter Matt Pascarella, Executive Producer Jacquie Soohen, Co-Producer, Filmographer & Editor Coordinating Producers: Leni von Eckardt, Zach Roberts & Christy Speicher
Ann & Mike Chickey David Kahn Kenneth Green Keith Fuchslocher Paul Mann CF Beck, Custom Designs Charles and Candia Varni Bill Perk Janis Weisbrot Doris Selz & Erwin Springbrunn Steven G Owens Victoria Ward Frank Reid Gale Georgalas William Schneider Suzanne Irwin-Wells Dan Beach Fritz Schenk Kenneth Fingeret David Pelleg Dick Shorter John Wetherhold Charles Turk Edward Farmilant Donald Duryee/Pat Thurston Gilbert Williams Sam Cowan Andy Tobias Donna Litowitz Norman Lear Steve Bing Bill Perkins Tina Rhoades Jack Chester David Thomas David Griggs Barbara Sher John Pearce
It’s been two years. And America’s media is about to have another tear-gasm over New Orleans. Maybe Anderson Cooper will weep again. The big networks will float into the moldering corpse of the city and give you uplifting stories about rebuilding and hope.
Now, let’s cut through the cry-baby crap. Here’s what happened two years ago – and what’s happening now.
This is what an inside source told me. And it makes me sick:
“By midnight on Monday, the White House knew. Monday night I was at the state Emergency Operations Center and nobody was aware that the levees had breeched. Nobody.”
The charge is devastating: That, on August 29, 2005,
The Department of Homeland Security, after a five-year hunt for Osama, finally brought charges against... Greg Palast.
As America crawled toward the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attack, Homeland Security charged me and my US producer Matt Pascarella with violating the anti-terror laws. Don't you feel safer? And I confess: we're guilty. ...more
The White House knew [the levees broke] because the Army Corps of Engineers sent them photographs. Again, I want to emphasize that the White House had the photographs of the levees breaking, and didn’t tell state and local officials who had stopped the evacuation because the hurricane missed New Orleans. Everyone thought they dodged a bullet, but the White House didn’t tell anybody the levees broke and were drowning the city. — Greg Palast
Greg Palast is just unstoppable, and after you watch his remarkable new DVD, “Big Easy to Big Empty: The Drowning of New Orleans,” you’ll understand why. …more
special investigation for Democracy Now! Monday, August 28. From New Orleans.
DON’T blame the Lady. Katrina killed no one in this town. In fact, Katrina missed the city completely, going wide to the east. It wasn’t the hurricane that drowned, suffocated, de-hydrated and starved 1,500 people that week. …more
What is the unreported cause of the majority of the 2,000 deaths that occurred after the levees broke last year on August 29? Catch Greg Palast’s investigative expose this Monday on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! And on Tuesday, watch his one-hour Special on LinkTV. Listings at LinkTV.org. …more
t r u t h o u t | Book Preview Excerpted from Armed Madhouse, a new book by Greg Palast.
The National Public Radio news anchor was so excited I thought she’d pee herself: The President of the United States had flown his plane down to 1,700 feet to get a better look at the flood damage! Later, I saw the photo of him looking out of the window of Air Force One. The President looked very serious and concerned. That was on Wednesday, August 31, 2005, two days after the levees broke and Lake Ponchartrain swallowed New Orleans. …more