Marci just concluded a deal paying off US vulture fund operator Paul Singer, a $2.5 billion pay-out which the Argentine government described as “extortion.”
The story of Argentina versus Singer, aka The Vulture, looms hugely over the US Presidential election. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton attempted to prevent Singer from collecting this “extortion” pay-off from Argentina. Singer, the top donor to the Republican Party, is fuming.
To get the story, listen to Greg Palast on Loud & Clear, …more
HuffPo reports that former Republican Presidential nominee Mitt RomneyÂ will endorse Senator Marco Rubio.Â Why?Â The answer is: the financier known as The Vulture, Paul Singerâ€”donor Number One to the GOPâ€”and top sugar daddy to the Rubio campaign.
Back in 2012, we broke The Nation cover story exposing how Singer, Mitt Romney’s finance chair, secretly stuffed the “blind trust” of Ann Romney with up to $115 million. Â For $115 million, a politician will wash your car â€” with his tongue. Â So, of course, Mrs. Romneyâ€™s husband will endorse the Vultureâ€™s choice. Blind trust=blind endorsement.
DownloadÂ Vultures and Vote Rustlers,Â Â the film of Romneyâ€™s folly and other Palast team investigations, our best for BBC and Democracy Now! (Or get a signed copy of the DVD!)
Greg Palast is the author of severalÂ New York Times bestsellersÂ includingÂ The Best Democracy Money Can Buy andÂ Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures’ Picnic.
Durante su vida anterior, cuando era detective privado, el estadounidense Greg Palast (62) trabajÃ³ para sindicatos, para el Gobierno de Estados Unidos y hasta para los indios nativos de Alaska, a los que ayudÃ³ a descubrir un fraude de British Petroleum por el desastre ecolÃ³gico del petrolero Exxon Valdez en 1989. Hasta que se cansÃ³ que ver cÃ³mo los reporteros hablaban de su trabajo y se pasÃ³ al otro lado: â€œMe convertÃ en periodista de investigaciÃ³n de la BBC y The GuardianÂ (Leer la traducciÃ³n del artÃculo). No les importaba que supiera o no escribir. Lo que les interesaba era la informaciÃ³nâ€.
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
He’s kidding, right? Did I just hear Mitt Romney say,Â “I would do nothing to hurt the US auto industry”
Here’s the facts, ma’am:
As I reported in this week’s Nation magazine cover story “Mitt Romney’s Bail-out Bonanza“, the Romneys are in a special partnership with the vulture fund that bought Delphi,Â the former GM auto parts division.
[Watch our Democracy Now! report on the Romney group’s auto plant closures.]
The Romney vulture fund investment syndicate shipped every single UAW production jobÂ â€“Â EVERY jobÂ â€“Â to China.
Just after Nation broke the story, Washington newsletterÂ The HillÂ received the Romneys admission of profiteering:
“Romney’s campaign did not deny that he profited from the auto bailout in an email to The Hill, but it said the the report showed the Detroit intervention was ‘misguided.'”
The truth? On June 1, 2009, the Obama Administration announced …more
If you’re not sick and outraged and ready to vomit, then don’t talk to me.
When I see a cruel bucket of garbage and winky-winky racism and bullshit and venom like Paul Ryan talk to America like he’s some kind of Boy Scout, I want a gun, or a TV network where I can tell the truth or a giant washing machine to dunk America and rinse off the crud of lies and pure manipulative evil that they’re feeding us.
But I don’t like guns, I don’t have a TV network, I just have this:Â A book.
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
On the 20th of April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oilrig blew out in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven men instantly, then destroying 600 miles of coastline. On 9 September 2010, a natural gas pipelineÂ exploded in San Bruno, California, burning eight to death, one of several recent pipeline explosions in the USA. In 1992, in Chicago, a gas pipe leaked and 18 houses exploded, incinerating three people.
What do these deaths have to do with plans for â€œfrackingâ€ for natural gas in Ireland?
Everything. It was my jobÂ to investigate these three explosions, the Deepwater Horizon and California explosions as aÂ reporter for the UK Channel 4’s Dispatches, the earliest as a US government investigator. In all three cases, the deaths were preceded by the same reassurances about the safety of drilling and piping thatÂ I read now in the debate about fracking in Ireland.
First, the Deepwater Horizon. Â Eleven men died when the â€˜mudâ€™ – drilling cement meant to cap the wellhead – failed and methane gas blew out the top ofÂ the pipes and exploded. The Shannon Basin is not the Gulf of Mexico, but your safety will be just as dependent on Halliburtonâ€™s mud. …more
[Thursday February 23] Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney called the federal governmentâ€™s 2009 bail-out of the auto industry, â€œnothing more than crony capitalism, Obama style… a reward for his big donors to his campaign.” In fact, the biggest rewards ÂÂâ€“ a windfall of more than two billion dollars care of US taxpayers ÂÂÂâ€“â€“ went to Romney’s two top contributors.
John Paulson of Paulson & Co and Paul Singer of Elliott International, known on Wall Street as â€œvultureâ€ investors, have each written checks for one million dollars to Restore Our Future, the Super PAC supporting Romneyâ€™s candidacy.
Gov. Romney last week asserted that the Obama Administrationâ€™s support for General Motors was a, â€œpayoff for the auto workers union.â€ However, union workers in GMâ€™s former auto parts division, Delphi, the unit taken over by Romneyâ€™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 wasnâ€™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 Journalâ€™s Dealmaker column was outraged, accusing Paul Singer of treating the auto company, â€œlike a third world country.â€
But it worked. Singer and Paulson got what they demanded. Using US Treasury funds:
GM agreed to pay off $1.1 billion of Delphiâ€™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 didnâ€™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 Romneyâ€™s funders who wiped out 100% of the pensions and health care accounts of Delphi salaried retireesÂÂ.
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. Paulsonâ€™s gain totals a billion and a half dollars ($1,499,499,000), and Singer gained nearly a billion ($899,751,000) â€“â€“ 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? Itâ€™s doing well for Paulson and Singer. GM and Chrysler, still in business by the grace of the US Treasury, remain Delphiâ€™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 â€“â€“ 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 â€œinsuranceâ€ 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 Streetâ€™s toughest â€œvultureâ€ speculator. Vulture fund financial attacks on the worldâ€™s poorest nations have been effectively outlawed in much of Europe and excoriated by human rights groups, conduct Britainâ€™s former Prime Minister Gordon Brown described as, â€œmorally outrageous.â€
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.Â The billionaire had more than his share of legal and political troubles.Â 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.Â 2012:Â 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.Â 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.Â 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. Â 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.”
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.
I get the idea that Eric Hermann doesnâ€™t want to talk to me. When I came to his office suite, his hedge fundâ€™s name plaque had been unbolted from the buildingâ€™s wall, the suite number removed and all the employees locked in.
Iâ€™m not surprised. Hermann is a vulture, not the carrion-eating type, but the kind that prey on the financially wounded. â€œVultureâ€ is a hedge fund industry term for the financiers who buy up the right to collect old loans of the worldâ€™s poorest nations, and then use every trick in the book â€” from lawsuits to bribery to hiring Henry Kissingerâ€™s lobby firm â€” to muscle destitute countries into turning over their meager foreign aid funds.
Vultures, whether of the feathered or speculator species, donâ€™t like to talk to reporters.
On February 25, the day after BBC Televisionâ€™s Newsnight ran my report from in front of Hermannâ€™s locked office door, Britainâ€™s Parliament voted to bar vulture funds from using Britainâ€™s courts to grab the assets of poor nations. …more
For the two weeks before tickle-and-grope charges busted open on him, and before his resignation from Congress, our BBC Television investigations team was hunting for Representative Eric Massa.
We wanted to know what he had hidden in his drawers. Not his knickers, which have captivated America’s peep-show media, but Massa’s file drawers where he keeps his dirtier secrets.
Frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass about Massa’s creepy little peccadilloes. But I care an awful lot about creeps that quietly backed him.
Massa plays himself as a two-fisted Progressive Democrat, telling the President to jam his fake health care bill where the Rahm don’t shine, and he gave the Iraq war his middle finger. I mean, the guy was on Rachel Maddow.
That’s the television Massa. But what about the Congressman Massa? And why was he ducking us?
I specifically wanted to ask the New York Congressman about Paul Singer: “Swift Boat” Singer, the guy who funded the vile attacks on Presidential Candidate John Kerry. “Swift Boat” Singer â€” reportedly the biggest funder of the Republican Party in New York. Our information was that the demi-billionaire Singer was backing Massa.
Singer’s nickname isn’t really Swift Boat. It’s “The Vulture.”
Singer is a speculator, the predator-in-chief of the flock of financiers, collectively known as “vultures,” who buy up the right to collect on old loans made to the world’s poorest nations. Vultures use law suits, political muscle, and in some cases, bribery …more
Some vultures have feathers, but some have fancy offices and huge homes. Tonight, BBC investigative reporter Greg Palast follows the trail of one “vulture fund” chief, from a locked office door in New York to mud-brick houses in Africa.
Reporter Greg Palast outside the office of New York vulture fund. The name plaque has been removed and the staff locked inside.
How strange. When I arrive at the offices of Eric Hermann at hedge fund FH International, just outside New York City, the company’s corporate sign is unbolted from the wall and the suite number removed from the door.
But wait … I hear noises inside the office. Huh? I knock on the locked door and out steps the office building’s security manager.
“Guys, they don’t want to be interviewed. They don’t want to be seen. So we are going to have to ask you to leave the building.”
“And do you know why they took the sign off?”
His reply to our cameras, “I have no clue.”
But we do.
Mr. Hermann is the principle owner of a so-called “vulture fund” which attempted to seize more than $20 million from the war-wounded nation of Liberia.
Mr. Hermann is known in the finance business as a debt “vulture.” He and his associates buy up the debt of the poorest nations on the planet, usually for pennies on the dollar, then sue or use other means to squeeze the nations to pay ten times, even a hundred times, what the vulture fund paid for the debt.
The effect of Hermann’s financial maneuvers earns little applause in Liberia. In that African democracy, diplomat Winston Tubman tells us what he would say to vulture fund operators, “‘Do you know you are causing babies to die all over Liberia?'”
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 â€” but it’s you, our supporters, who pay our subway fares to Amy’s studio.
That’s whyâ€”for the first time this decadeâ€”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.
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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 â€” 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.
Former UK ministers and MPs from all UK parties are set to back a bill later on Wednesday outlawing the activities of vulture funds, hedge funds which divert debt relief from the poorest countries into their own pockets.
Vulture funds have been condemned by governments around the world as perverse and immoral for preying on the world’s poor.
Developed countries including Britain and the US have spent billions of pounds trying to relieve the debts of the world’s poorest nations so that they can spend that money on health and education.
The vulture fund speculators effectively divert that debt relief to themselves by buying debt for pennies in the pound just as it is about to be written off, and then suing in British or US courts for the full value plus interest.
In 2007, Newsnight exposed the activities of Donegal International which bought a tranche of Zambia’s debt for $3m and then sued for $55m – the size of Zambia’s health budget.
Reporter Greg Palast doorstepped Donegal’s boss Michael “Goldfinger” Sheehan who styles himself after the James Bond villain.