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Why We Occupy – Greg Palast Live!

Greg Palast 

“The first thing that the military police say is, ‘Give us your film.’ They had real weapons and I had a fake press pass, so it was an easy choice.  They let me keep my pen — but they didn’t know it was one of those Austin Powers jobs with the video camera hidden inside.”

For donors to the Palast Investigative Fund only:  
“Why We Occupy”:  Greg Palast LIVE.

Get the signed DVDdownload the film or download the audio.

In an extraordinary talk mixed with live, undercover footage from his investigations from around the globe, Palast rips the sheets off the One Percent, exposing the Koch Brothers, Chevron, BP, Goldman Sachs, the IMF, WTO-the bribers and billionaires in stories that grip you, scare you – and make you laugh.

Check out the trailer:

…more

Gulf still slimed by BP oil

Greg Palast 

By Kert Davies, Research Director, Greenpeace USA

Read the Greenpeace blog and listen to the Greenpeace Radio Podcast with Greg Palast, author of Vultures’ Picnic: In pursuit of petroleum pigs, power pirates and high-finance carnivores.

Then read this.  It’s my soul on a plate.  Then pass it on so others can taste it.
— gp

“Occupy,” Big Oil and the U.S. Media
with Muckraking Journalist Greg Palast
By Kevin J. Kelley [12.07.11]
Seven Days Magazine

Greg Palast was floating in a kayak off the Alaska coast in 1997 when he had an epiphany. He was working at the time as an investigator for the Chugach native people, whose lands had been slimed by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. In the course of his study, Palast uncovered information about Exxon’s culpability for the disaster, but he had no way of publicizing it. So he decided to become a journalist.

It’s proven a successful second career for Palast, 59, who studied business at the University of Chicago under right-wing economist Milton Friedman. He’s won six Project Censored awards for reporting important stories ignored by the mainstream press. He’s also the author of two international best sellers, Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.

A native Californian, Palast reports regularly for Britain’s Guardian newspaper and for the BBC. Nation magazine writer Jim Hightower calls Palast “a cross between Sam Spade and Sherlock Holmes.” Corporate executives he’s outed as wrongdoers call Palast other things.

Palast spoke with Seven Days in advance of his scheduled talk next week at Burlington’s Main Street Landing Film House.

Seven Days: You must be sympathetic to Occupy Wall Street. Do you think it will have a lasting impact on U.S. politics?

Greg Palast: It’s not a setback for Occupy to no longer be occupying. No one gives a shit about Wall Street. It’s just a piece of tarmac. It was never the point of the movement.

The point has been to expose the 1 percent, the movers and shakers who are moving and shaking us, all those rich motherfuckers. Now we know their names, where they live, how they made their billions.

So yeah, the impact has been huge. And it’s just starting. I’m deeply involved with Occupy.

SD: You’ve got a new book out: Vultures’ Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates, and High- Finance Carnivores. Can you summarize what it’s about?

GP: Vultures are financial speculators who seize the assets of the poorest nations by claiming these countries owe money that the speculators try to collect through intimidation, bribery and theft. One guy associated with this is Paul Singer; he’s Mitt Romney’s top economic adviser. I’ve been investigating how Romney’s “job creator” makes his money, and that’s a story Singer doesn’t want you to hear.

By the way, I’m totally nonpartisan. Even though Singer owns the Republican Party, I point out that he rents the Democratic Party.

Most of the book is a five-continent investigation of British Petroleum. I’m bringing you the stuff you don’t get from CNN or the Petroleum Broadcasting System.

BP’s blowout in the Gulf in 2010 was actually the second big disaster it had. There was also a blowout in the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan in 2008, but BP covered it up with a combination of bribery, beatings and blow jobs. [Azerbaijani officials] kept their lips closed and their zippers open.

SD: So your talk in Burlington is part of a book tour?

GP: I’m on a troublemaking tour. My talks are platforms for Occupy activists in their transition away from their fixation with real estate.

SD: You obviously come at stories from a left-wing perspective. Do you ever worry that your ideology might blind you to facts?

GP: I don’t have an ideology. There’s really only the truth and the not-truth. I’m just an old-fashioned gumshoe reporter.
The worst fucking thing about American journalism, by the way, is its “on-the-one-hand-this, on-the-other-that” approach. It really distorts or omits truth.

I exposed [Florida Secretary of State] Katherine Harris for purging thousands of black voters from the electoral rolls. That cost [Al] Gore the 2000 election. It was stolen from him. I documented it.

I could not get that story into the U.S. media. There was a total news blackout of what had happened. It finally got picked up by the L.A. Times, and they played the story as “Democrats accuse Republicans of removing black voters from the rolls; the Republicans deny that.”

Jesus Christ! We don’t have balanced news in the United States; it doesn’t fucking exist. News here isn’t reporting; it’s repeating.

SD: Hang on. You write mostly for British outlets. Are you saying the British press is less influenced by corporate interests than the American press? The same financial dynamics are at work, right?

GP: Wrong. The Guardian is owned by a not-for-profit charitable trust. That’s allowed it to become the most influential English-language paper in the world.

SD: More influential than the New York Times?

GP: The New York Times is influential in New York. People elsewhere see that it’s – what shall we say? – incomplete.

The BBC is the gold standard of journalism. It’s important to know it’s neither corporate owned nor government owned. It’s owned by subscribers, the people who pay £100 a year for a TV license.

SD: Yeah, but Britain doesn’t have a First Amendment or a Freedom of Information Act.

GP: That’s true, but the Brits could borrow our First Amendment, because we’re not using it. And have you tried using FOIA lately? Good luck.

It’s also true that I don’t have any legal protection for stories in the British press. The resulting degree of self-censorship by some reporters is just astonishing.

But it’s still not as bad as it is here. The entire front page of the Guardian last week had my coverage of Singer, Romney’s biggest funder. There wasn’t one mention of his role in the U.S. press.

SD: Staying with journalism for a minute, do you have a journalist hero? George Orwell, maybe?

GP: Only Christopher Hitchens is pompous enough to compare himself with Orwell. My model is Jack Anderson [a Pulitzer Prize-winning modern muckraker who broke scandals involving both Democrats and Republicans].

I also always admired Ron Ridenhour, the soldier who revealed the My Lai massacre [in which 500 Vietnamese villagers were killed by U.S. troops on March 16, 1968]. Ridenhour was the greatest investigative reporter of the last century. He died way too young [of a heart attack in 1998 at age 52].

The TV show “Columbo” had a big influence on me, too. I learned a lot from it about how to do investigations. Lt. Columbo was just totally dogged.

SD: How about Hunter Thompson? You’ve got an image like his.

GP: People make that connection all the time because we have Rolling Stone in common. But Thompson was a brilliant social analyst, and I’m just a gumshoe guy.

SD: You do look like an old-school reporter with that Humphrey Bogart hat of yours.

GP: I wear the hat because I’m bald and I’ll get painfully sunburned otherwise.

SD: Matt Drudge wears the same kind of hat.

GP: Yeah, some people say I’m a left-wing Matt Drudge, but there’s a big difference: Drudge is full of shit, and I’m full of information.

SD: You must be embarrassed that one of the first things on Google for “Greg Palast” is a 2009 piece you wrote saying what a great job Obama is doing.

GP: It was right after he took office. And it was nice to see him acting for one week like a real president.

SD: So what happened?

GP: Obama was reminded of who elected him. He brought into power guys like Tim Geithner and Larry Summers – Wall Street operatives and proteges of Robert Rubin, who was Clinton’s Treasury secretary [and a Goldman Sachs and Citigroup executive].

Remember, it wasn’t Bush who destroyed the economy; it was a guy named Bill Clinton.

They put the arm on Obama. They reminded him he’s just a tenant.

SD: Do you worry about your safety?

GP: I very much fear for the safety of my sources. Some of them do end up in jail and/or beaten up. It’s insanely dangerous for some of them to talk to me. One of my great sources was just charged with sedition. These guys are insanely courageous. But please don’t give the impression that your life will be threatened if you become my source. That wouldn’t be helpful.

SD: You’re talking about incidents in other countries, right? You haven’t had sources jailed or beaten up in the U.S., have you?

GP: Look at Bradley Manning, America’s most heroic political prisoner [the U.S. Army soldier accused of supplying a cache of secret diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks]. Lots of Americans are facing the ruin of their careers for whistle-blowing.

******

Greg Palast will talk about “Why We Occupy: How Wall Street Picks the Bones of America,” on December 12 at 7 p.m. in Burlington’s Main Street Landing Film House. Palast’s One-Percent Tour travels this week to Houston on Thursday, Baltimore Friday and next week to Burlington VT (Monday), and Atlanta (Thursday).

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.

Subscribe to Palast’s Newsletter and podcasts.
Follow Palast on Facebook and Twitter.

GregPalast.com

UPDATE: Cops beat our cameraman ZD Roberts

Greg Palast 

[New York Monday March 19]

Our photographer ZD Roberts was beaten by New York City cops with nightsticks while covering Occupy Wall Street’s attempt to re-take Zuccotti Park Saturday night.

Zach yelled several times, “I’m PRESS! PRESS!” yet was slammed on the head twice after he’d been thrown to the ground when the police shoved back the protesters. Zach, whose photos of Occupy Wall Street have been seen all over the world on the front page of The Guardian, showed his press badge, an act for which his hair was grabbed, head pulled back and slammed again with a club.

If you remember, Zach was arrested while covering the story three months ago. His trial is coming up (he refused to cop a plea).

We’ve covered the world but who thought that the toughest combat assignment would be New York?

Here’s Zach story and comment in his own words and photos:

My head hurts. The NYPD did this to me.

3 months after my arrest during an Occupy Wall St. protest on #D17 and two days away from my meeting with the Assistant DA about said arrest – I got beaten by cops just outside of Zuccotti Park.

I wasn’t the only one, and I have no doubt I won’t be the last. The NYPD has complete authority in this town – I hate using the word police state, but when I saw a girl thrown from a bus, in handcuffs, having a seizure being tossed to the ground – I really am at a loss for any other words.

Cameras documented it. Here’s one of the photos I took. There’s tons of video. I can tell you from being there that there wasn’t a single police officer with a look of concern on his/her face as the girl continued having a seizure on the hard pavement of Broadway.

It took 15 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. I’m told 5 minutes is the usual response time in this part of town.

This is Commissioner Ray Kelly’s city, we just live here.

There was no ambulance needed for me. I was lucky or maybe just stupid.

After the second cleansing of Zuccotti Park, Saturday night, the police continued their pushback under the guise of ‘safety concerns’ – basically a standard operating procedure to keep protesters and journalists from being allowed to witness arrests and to disperse the crowd in different directions.

It works quite well, that is until it doesn’t. The thing is, when you’re pushing back with billy clubs and metal barricades, sometimes people can’t move back quick enough. Or sometimes, people refuse to move from a public sidewalk. Well as a photographer, I get caught in the middle quite often – usually I’m deft enough to get out of the way – this time I wasn’t.

I fell back, and while trying to get up – there was another push from the police – they saw me fall, mind you. Just didn’t care.

Two or three people made it over me without falling as well, using me as their sidewalk (they didn’t have any other choice) – but then came the rush – four or five people fell on top of me.

The police kept pushing. Then came the batons. I couldn’t see if the people that were on top of me previously got hit at all but I certainly did, twice to the back and once on the head.

I’m not quite sure what the logic is of literally beating a man when he’s down. But once he saw that his baton beating wasn’t getting me going he decided to try to pick me up by my hair. That didn’t work either – but by then I was up enough to get my footing under me as I continued screaming “PRESS!!! PRESS!!!” That was enough to get the beating to stop – but I still was pushed/thrown back into the crowd, again almost losing my footing as I had to leap over a pile of garbage into the street.

Checking my bag and camera for damage I moved outside of the crowd to compose myself before pushing back in.

Read the rest at SuicideGirlsblog.com later tomorrow and visit our facebook page for some exclusive photos from the raid.

Please support our kickstarter campaign to support the research and filming of a DVD and book on Billionaires and Ballots.

Greg Palast is the author of Vultures’ Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores.

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

Our Photographer (& His Lens) Busted
@Occupy Wall Street

Greg Palast 

Special to Truthout.org

“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.

Support the Palast Investigative Fund and keep our work alive.
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GregPalast.com

A Rick Perry Christmas Prayer

Greg Palast 

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?

Then get the man a copy of Vultures’ Picnic for Christmas. Make a minimum $60 tax-deductible donation to the Palast Investigative Fund …more

Wall Street is just an address
And that is WHY WE OCCUPY

Greg Palast 

The Palast investigations team at Zuccotti Park Wall Street, Occupy Portland, Occupy Oakland, and Kinshasa, Congo

exclusive for OpedNews.com

So big deal. They evicted us.  That just means we are among five million Americans evicted from their homes this year.

Our photographer, Zach Roberts, had his camera cracked and his head whacked. [See the photo of the nightstick just before it breaks the lens.]

Go ahead, kick us and evict us. That won’t stop us. Because it’s not about the real estate. Wall Street’s just an address.

Time to remind The One Percent why we occupy. …more

Palast crew reporter Roberts…
just before the cop busted the lens.

Greg Palast 

2a.m. Zuccotti Park, Wall Street, New York

Zach D Roberts, photographer for the Palast Investigative Team, a split second before the copy cracked the lens”“”“and whacked Zach. See that spot on the left? That’s the night stick hitting the lens.

Tonight: Palast on “Why We Occupy.”

…more

GOLDMAN SUX?
Giant Squid Strikes Again
at Occupy Wall Street’s Credit Union

Greg Palast 

Palast is the author of Vultures’ Picnic: in Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores.

What have I done?  There’s one angry squid out there.

Memo from Tim Geithner to Larry Summers
(click to enlarge)

Last week, Democracy Now! and The Guardian ran our story about Goldman Sachs yanking financial support from a community credit union for honoring one of its largest customers.  The customer:  Occupy Wall Street.

Our report so enraged Goldman that, within days, it doubled down on its attack on the little community bank.

Goldman had already demanded the return of its $5,000 payment to the Lower East Side Peoples Federal Credit Union.  Now, sources say, the trillion-dollar Wall Street mega-bank sent the following message to the not-for-profit community bank:  “You will never get a dime from any bank ever again.”

About those “dimes” Goldman is taking away:  …more

Sachs Fiend:
Goldman Attacks Occupy Wall Street’s Non-Profit Bank

When Goldman got huffy at a credit union honouring OWS and pulled its anniversary dinner funding, much more was at stake

Greg Palast 

Exclusive for The Guardian
Greg Palast, the author of Vultures’ Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates, and High-Finance Carnivores.
With Arun Gupta, founding editor of The Occupied Wall Street Journal.

Greg Palast reports from Occupied Wall Street for Democracy Now!

[Zuccotti Park, Wall Street, New York.]

Mega-bank Goldman Sachs (assets $933bn), has declared war on one of the smallest banks in New York (assets $30m), the customer-owned community bank that happens to also be the banker for Friends of Liberty Plaza, Inc, also known as Occupy Wall Street. And you thought Goldman didn’t care.

The trouble began three weeks ago when the occupiers suddenly found their donation buckets filling with thousands of dollars, way more than needed for their pizza dinners. Suddenly, the anti-bank protesters needed a bank. Citibank and Chase certainly wouldn’t fit. So OWS opened an account at the not-for-profit Lower East Side Peoples Federal Credit Union. Peoples has a unique federal charter – designated to open accounts for low-income folk from all over NewYork, available to those families earning less than $38,000 per year. (Disclosure: the CEO of the Peoples bank is my dearly beloved ex. But that’s another story.)

Goldman Sachs had also joined up with the Peoples bank. Goldman partners reportedly earn a bit more than $38k per annum, yet Goldman’s association so far was limited to giving the credit union $5,000 toward the little bank’s 25th anniversary celebration dinner. Goldman’s largesse was acknowledged on the dinner invites – along with the night’s honoree: Occupy Wall Street.

When a Goldman exec saw its gilded name next to Occupy Wall Street, …more