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. But I don’t believe it.
Larry didn’t hold the knife: 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. Think of it as the Tea Party goes Greek.
Following Fyssas’ killing, other groups of dangerous psychopathic misfits, namely the European Union and Greece’s governing coalition, moved to ban Golden Dawn.
Over the weekend, Greece’s rulers arrested six members of Parliament who belong to Golden Dawn. Apparently, Greece’s political leaders prefer …more
Joseph Stiglitz couldn’t believe his ears. Here they were in the White House, with President Bill Clinton asking the chiefs of the US Treasury for guidance on the life and death of America’s economy, when the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers turns to his boss, Secretary Robert Rubin, and says, “What would Goldman think of that?”
Then, at another meeting, Summers said it again: What would Goldman think?A shocked Stiglitz, then Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, told me he’d turned to Summers, and asked if Summers thought it appropriate to decide US economic policy based on “what Goldman thought.” As opposed to say, the facts, or say, the needs of the American public, you know, all that stuff that we heard in Cabinet meetings on The West Wing.
Summers looked at Stiglitz like Stiglitz was some kind of naive fool who’d read too many civics books.
When a little birdie dropped the End Game memo through my window, its content was so explosive, so sick and plain evil, I just couldn’t believe it.
The Memo confirmed every conspiracy freak’s fantasy: that in the late 1990s, the top US Treasury officials secretly conspired with a small cabal of banker big-shots to rip apart financial regulation across the planet. When you see 26.3% unemployment in Spain, desperation and hunger in Greece, riots in Indonesia and Detroit in bankruptcy, go back to this End Game memo, the genesis of the blood and tears.
The Treasury official playing the bankers’ secret End Game was Larry Summers. Today, Summers is Barack Obama’s leading choice for Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, the world’s central bank. If the confidential memo is authentic, then Summers shouldn’t …more
In his career as an investigative journalist, economist, and bestselling author –Vultures’ Picnic, Billionaires and Ballot Bandits, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy – 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
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.
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.
I asked my daughter if she would like to add her own recollections about JK Rowling and the “alternative” Harry Potter endings Jo Rowling told us when we were hanging out in the Green Room at BBC Television Centre. (I provide investigative stories for the BBC current affairs program Newsnight.) My daughter and her oblivious twin brother don’t remember much, but what did leave an impression were my speculations about the untimely and suspicious death of my fellow investigative reporter, Karl Larsson–whom you would know as the fiction writer “Stieg” Larsson.
My daughter interviewed me about Larsson’s work and wrote this report for school. Her mother is allowing me to post it only on condition her by-line gives her nickname only.…more
Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist gave debtors’ prison a bad rap. Too bad. I’d say that locking away GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a penitentiary for deadbeats seems like a darn good idea.
Bush reads from My Pet Budget
Let’s talk about how we ended up in this pickle, bucking up against the “debt ceiling.” From 2001 to 2008, a Republican President took an annual surplus of $86 billion left for him by Bill Clinton and ran up the budget deficit to over half a trillion a year ($642 billion in 2008). Altogether, George W. Bush blew up the national debt by over $3 TRILLION–then left the bills to Barack Obama. …more
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 – count’em, FIVE – 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?
I get the idea that Eric Hermann doesn’t want to talk to me. When I came to his office suite, his hedge fund’s name plaque had been unbolted from the building’s wall, the suite number removed and all the employees locked in.
I’m not surprised. Hermann is a vulture, not the carrion-eating type, but the kind that prey on the financially wounded. “Vulture” is a hedge fund industry term for the financiers who buy up the right to collect old loans of the world’s poorest nations, and then use every trick in the book – from lawsuits to bribery to hiring Henry Kissinger’s lobby firm – to muscle destitute countries into turning over their meager foreign aid funds.
Vultures, whether of the feathered or speculator species, don’t like to talk to reporters.
On February 25, the day after BBC Television’s Newsnight ran my report from in front of Hermann’s locked office door, Britain’s Parliament voted to bar vulture funds from using Britain’s courts to grab the assets of poor nations. …more
A Conversation with Ecuador’s New President [Quito] I don’t know what the hell seized me. In the middle of an hour-long interview with the President of Ecuador, I asked him about his father.
I’m not Barbara Walters. It’s not the kind of question I ask.
He hesitated. Then said, “My father was unemployed.”
He paused. Then added, “He took a little drugs to the States… This is called in Spanish a mula [mule]. He passed four years in the states- in a jail.”
He continued. “I’d never talked about my father before.”
Apparently he hadn’t. His staff stood stone silent, eyes widened.
Correa’s dad took that frightening chance in the 1960s, a time when his family, like almost all families in Ecuador, was destitute. Ecuador was the original “banana republic” – and the price of bananas had hit the floor. A million desperate Ecuadorans, probably a tenth of the entire adult population, fled to the USA anyway they could.
“My mother told us he was working in the States.”
His father, released from prison, was deported back to Ecuador. Humiliated, poor, broken, his father, I learned later, committed suicide.
At the end of our formal interview, through a doorway surrounded by paintings of the pale plutocrats who once ruled this difficult land, he took me into his own Oval Office. I asked him about an odd-looking framed note he had on the wall. It was, he said, from his daughter and her grade school class at Christmas time. He translated for me.
“We are writing to remind you that in Ecuador there are a lot of very poor children in the streets and we ask you please to help these children who are cold almost every night.”
It was kind of corny. And kind of sweet. A smart display for a politician.
Or maybe there was something else to it.
Correa is one of the first dark-skinned men to win election to this Quechua and mixed-race nation. Certainly, one of the first from the streets. He’d won a surprise victory over the richest man in Ecuador, the owner of the biggest banana plantation.
Doctor Correa, I should say, with a Ph.D in economics earned in Europe. …more
I remember John Perkins. He was a real jerk. A gold-plated, super-slick lying little butthole shill for corporate gangsters; a snake-oil salesman with a movie-star grin, shiny loafers, a crooked calculator and a tooled leather briefcase full of high-blown bullshit.
This was two decades ago. The early 1980s. I wore sandals, uncombed hair down to my cheap collar and carried a busted ring-binder filled with honest calculations and sincere analysis. It was Economic Hit Man Perkins vs. Economic Long-Hair Palast. I didn’t stand a chance. The EHM was about to put a political bullet hole through me wider than a silver dollar.
Hit Men have “clients.” Perkins’ was a giant power company, Public Service of New Hampshire. PSNH was trying to sell New England lobstermen and potato farmers on the idea that they desperately needed a multi-billion dollar nuclear plant. The fact that this bloated atomic water kettle, called “Seabrook,” would produce enough electricity for everyone in the Granite State to smelt iron didn’t matter. That the beast could add a surcharge to electric bills equal to home mortgages was simply smiled over by Perkins and his team of economic con artists.
To steal millions, you need a top team of armed robbers. But to steal billions, you need PhD’s with color charts and economic projections made of fairy dust and eye of newt. Perkins had it all – including a magical thing called a computer-generated spreadsheet (this was well before Excel).
I was an expert witness for some consumer groups, trying to explain to state officials that Perkins’ numbers were bogus as a bubble-gum bagel and his financial projections were from some New Hampshire on another planet.
But this was the key point: Perkins slept in a suite at the Omni. I had truck-rumble insomnia at the motel off exit 68. He glared and grinned and glad-handed. I tried to keep my eyes open.
Here’s how it ended. The local Joe’s jumped head-first into the Perkins fantasy and bought his client’s power plant boondoggle. Within a couple years, the local electric companies had all gone bankrupt, the state treasury was drained, electric bills went from lowest to highest in the nation causing factories to close and dump, I figure, about 11,000 jobs.
Perkins’ clients walked away with barrelfuls of billions.
And Dr. Perkins pocketed plenty for his mortal soul.
But, as in every moral tale, Perkins, the modern Dr. Faust, found redemption in confession.
And we’re lucky he did. Because, in Perkins’ confessionals, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” and his latest, the just-released “Secret History of the American Empire,” we find out what makes these guys tick. By “these guys” I mean the vultures who suck up development aide, the sharks who use the World Bank as their enforcers, the corporate marauders, power pirates and hedge fund hogs with their snouts in the economic trough.
In “Secret History,” Perkins, from the inside, gives the details of the weird moral emptiness and pitilessness of men who waylay the riches of the planet from the people to whom it rightly belongs.
In New England, the pain imposed by the clients of the economic hit men were financial; but, as Perkins wants us never to forget, in much of the planet, the slick sales pitch of the economic hit man is enforced by squads of hit men with less subtle weaponry. Perkins writes:
“Three men toting AK-47s stood at attention outside. They saluted as we drove past. One of the three opened the front door opposite the driver. Leather Jacket and I climbed in. He spoke into a walkie talkie. Tinted windows made it impossible to see inside.”
In lines heavy with Hemingway, Perkins takes us to Indonesia, Bolivia, even tiny Diego Garcia and other victim-states where doctorate-armed “consultants” put an academic gloss on militarized plunder.
In the story of the guys with the AKs, Perkins is on assignment in Guatemala for an outfit called SWEC, a Bechtel twin trying to foist another mad power plant horror show on the natives of Guatemala. (About the same time, I convinced the state of New York to bring racketeering charges against SWEC and its partners in a massive power plant building fraud. SWEC and co-defendants settled the civil charges for a payment of nearly half a billion dollars.)
Unlike the yokels of New Hampshire who fell for the smooth Perkins line, the Guatemalans were no pushovers. Skeptical locals, suspicious indigenous shamans and a couple of improbably courageous politicians simply wouldn’t roll over to the corporate conquistadores.
The resisters, we are led to presume, will be dealt with accordingly. As Perkins explains it, if his pie-charts don’t make the sale, the little men in his darkened car know a little explosive wired to an ignition could be persuasive.
However, by time he got to Central America on the corporate assignment, Perkins was already ill at heart with the SWECs of this world. Ultimately, he refused to back their destructive scheme.
Perkins had switched sides – and, in “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” gets his soul back from Satan only a little soiled. In Secret History, the personal confession turns into an illuminating, world-spanning jeremiad. From Latin America to Africa to the Middle East, Perkins leaps from his own story to the widespread misery caused by the greed armies sent marching from the boardrooms of New York and London.
Today, Perkins is my confrere and colleague. He wears his hair longish and I wear mine . . . well, I’ve stopped wearing hair altogether.
And in his writings today, Perkins heart goes out to the Third World targets of this new empire ruled by shock troops and spread sheets. His empathy extends to those in the occupied territory known as the USA. Because, says Perkins, when the wretchedly ripped-off of the Earth rise in rebellion, the lash of the backlash is felt by the children of the lobstermen of New Hampshire, shivering under Humvees in Falluja, and never the EHM’s clients’ fortunate sons, frolicking in their Ferraris.
*********** Greg Palast is the author of Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans – Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild.
To read an except from Perkins’ latest book, The Secret History of the American Empire, go here.