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Greg Palast 11-18-11

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  • robalini
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com http://robalini.blogspot.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 19, 2011
      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist

      Steamshovelpress.com is back! New web content! New book product! New conference information! PLUS: a new, daily, twitterish quip: "Parapolitics Offhand!"

      Now available on CD and through US Mail only: Popular Parapolitics, 219 pages, illustrated, of comentary on the nexus of parapolitics and popular culture. $15 post paid from Kenn Thomas, POB 210553, St. Louis, MO 63121.


      Giant Squid Strikes Again at Occupy Wall Street's Credit Union
      Goldman Sachs Intensifies Threat on Credit Union
      Greg Palast
      Palast is the author of Vultures' Picnic: in Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores, out on November 14.

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

      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: They come from you and me, the taxpayers who put up billions into the Troubled Asset Recovery Plan (TARP), usually known as the Bank Bail-Out Fund.

      For Goldman to suck its $10 billion from the TARP trough, Goldman had to change from investment bank to commercial bank. This change makes Goldman subject to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and requires it by law to pay back a notable portion in funds for low-income communities, abandoned by the big banks.

      Memo from Tim Geithner to Larry Summers
      (click to enlarge)In other words, Goldman is beating up Lower East Side Peoples (which operates in Harlem and the Latino New York neighborhood known as Loisaida).

      I would note that Goldman's nasty threat to cut off funding for Peoples, the credit union that is officially chartered as the bank for low income New Yorkers, came with a complaint about this reporter.

      Goldman claims that Greg Palast called only one time to get Goldman's side of the story. (I called many times, as did my associate, and we left the same repeated message: I want your side of the story. Please call me and tell me if you're punishing the poor peoples' bank because they are supporting the demands of Occupy Wall Street?)

      There are tens of billions of dollars at stake in the Community Reinvestment funds due from the big banks. As other banks are making noises of heeding Goldman's call to whip the uppity little credit union, an answer from Goldman becomes urgent.

      So, Goldman, I'm still waiting for an answer. You've got my numbers, so just pick up a tentacle and call.


      Chapter 12 of Vultures' Picnic, "The Generalissimo of Globalization," includes the Palast team investigation of confidential documents of meetings over years between Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and the CEOs of Goldman, Bank of America and JP Morgan.

      The investigation takes the Palast crew from a dictator's shopping spree in Geneva to the Andes to Africa and back to Palast's years within the circle of a troll-like character named Milton Friedman.

      Pre-order Vultures' Picnic now or donate for a signed copy.

      Greg Palast is the author of Vultures' Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores, which will be released on November 14 by Penguin USA.

      For more information about Palast's brand new book and his book-signing events in your city, go to www.VulturesPicnic.org

      Follow Palast on Facebook and Twitter.


      Lazy Ouzo-Swilling, Olive-Pit Spitting Greeks
      Or, How Goldman Sacked Greece
      by Greg Palast for In These Times
      Sunday, November 6, 2011

      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 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. I don't buy it because of the document in my hand marked, "RESTRICTED DISTRIBUTION."

      I'll cut to the indictment: Greece is a crime scene. The people are victims of a fraud, a scam, a hustle and a flim-flam. And--cover the children's ears when I say this--a bank named Goldman Sachs is holding the 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. Read the first chapter or just get the book here.

      In 2002, Goldman Sachs secretly bought up €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 stupid—like a fox. The deal was a con, with Goldman making up a phony-baloney exchange rate for the transaction. Why?

      Goldman had cut a secret deal with the Greek government in power then. Their game: to conceal a massive budget deficit. Goldman's fake loss was the Greek government's fake gain.

      Goldman would get repayment of its "loss" 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 isn'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. Investors' went berserk, demanding monster interest rates to lend more money to roll over this debt.

      Greece's panicked bondholders rushed to buy insurance against the nation going bankrupt. The price of the bond-bust insurance, called a credit default swap (or CDS), also shot through the roof. Who made a big pile selling the CDS insurance? 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. In 2007, at the same time banks were selling suspect CDS's and CDOs (packaged sub-prime mortgage securities), Goldman held a "net short" position against these securities. That is, Goldman was betting their financial "products" would end up in the toilet. Goldman picked up 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. Blamed and soaked for the cost of it. The "spread" on Greek bonds (the term used for the risk premium paid on Greece's corrupted debt) has now risen to — get ready for this--$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? What the heck was in the "RESTRICTED" document? And why did I have to take it to Geneva, to throw it 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 grateful President of Ecuador?

      To give you all the answers would require me to write a book. I have: Vultures' Picnic--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. That's a funny statement, I suppose, from an author. But if you've been reading my stories in The Guardian or watching my reports on 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 full picture of The Beasts. The Beasts and their trophy wives, intelligence agency go-fers, political concubines and bone-breakers. And besides, it's enormous fun when it's not scary as sh*t.

      Greg Palast is the author of Vultures' Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores, which will be released on November 14 by Penguin USA.

      Pre-order it now!
      For more information about Palast's brand new book and his book-signing events in your city, go to www.VulturesPicnic.org

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


      Chapter One of Vultures' Picnic — Read it Now
      Greg Palast
      Thursday, November 3, 2011

      After some tense discussion (Penguin was partly owned by Gaddafi, so you can imagine...), my publisher has given me the unusual right to give all my readers, for no charge, the entire first chapter of my new book Vultures' Picnic. Even if you don't get the book, I really want you to read the first chapter.


      Never before, in my decades as an investigator, have I taken you with me undercover, on the hunt into the lives, secret files, shopping bags and back rooms of the cruel and whacky One Percent. And, for the first time, I've decided to let you in on Greg Palast, to open up my life and the inside of my operation, without censorship or BS.

      In Chapter One, you will first encounter:

      the MI6 agent who carried the bribes for British Petroleum and the Kalashnikovs;
      the billionaire's ex-trophy wife ready to burn the bed and open the files;
      the Radioactive Brick from address unknown, with documentation of a massive fraud by Tokyo Electric Power, arriving ten months before Fukushima melted;
      the secret memo of Treasury Secretary Geithner waiting for the go-ahead from Goldman Sachs and Citibank;
      the CIA spook turned billionaire with a score to settle and a devastating document from Kazakhstan;
      and a punch in the face just before an appearance on Amy Goodman's show.
      (I deserved it, I suppose. You read it and tell me.)

      Chapter One takes you from a stake-out at dawn in New York, to the King of Mardi Gras to a shopping spree with a short dictator in Geneva, to suicide and murder in a Native Village in Alaska that is a key to the Deepwater Horizon investigation.

      Vultures' Picnic is the sum of my life and work getting even with the One-Percent, the cruelty merchants posing as captains of industry. I go after these guys because for me, it's personal. I admit, it's revenge. You should know why.

      I've been called America's top investigative reporter and the funniest. I admit, the book has as many laughs as it has tears—because the ultra-rich whom I track across the globe are clowns—except with really terrific shoes and bodyguards.

      So, just step into the Vultures' Picnic circus tent for a few pages. Read it or download it. I think you'll want the rest of the tale (I don't eat the whale until Chapter Three, or get caught with my pants off in Ms. Jamaica's room until Chapter 9 or encounter The Hamsah in Africa until....)

      Read the chapter, and if you want a copy of the book, you can pre-order it or donate $60 and I will send you a personally signed copy. The book hits the stores on November 14.

      This is full frontal Palast, for good or bad.

      If you can handle Goldfinger, you can survive the rest.

      Greg Palast is the author of Vultures' Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores, which will be released on November 14 by Penguin USA.

      For more information about Palast's brand new book and his book-signing events in your city, go to www.VulturesPicnic.org

      Follow Palast on Facebook and Twitter.


      Greg Palast Tracks the Predatory Vultures of the 1%
      Wednesday 9 November 2011
      Mark Karlin, Truthout

      "Greg Palast, Vultures' Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates, and High-Finance Carnivores" is yours with a minimum one-time donation of $35, or a monthly commitment of $10 or more to Truthout.

      Near the front of his new book, "Vultures' Picnic," Greg Palast quotes BuzzFlash at Truthout as calling him "a cross between Seymour Hersh and Jack Kerouac." He also quotes a White House spokesman as saying about him, "We hate that sonovabitch."

      During its first several years, Palast was the most interviewed resource on BuzzFlash. That was and is because he drives the global elite crazy, not to mention the mainstream corporate media.

      He's a one-person investigative junk yard dog, who chomps down and doesn't let go. He's indefatigable, as the subtitle of his book indicates, "in pursuit of petroleum pigs, power pirates, and high-finance carnivores."

      Mark Karlin: More than any of your other books, your personality appears to come through most strongly in "Vultures' Picnic." Yes, it's got all the corruption you've exposed around the world, but it also reveals a very wry sense of humor. After all, I really wasn't expecting to discover that Azerbaijan has the tallest flag pole in the world. How would you describe "Vultures' Picnic"? [It will be released on November 14, and has been chosen as a Truthout Progressive Pick of the Week. You can pre-order the book from Truthout by clicking here.]

      Greg Palast: You got it. This is the story of "The 1%" the vulture final, oil industry bag men, nuclear conmen - but it's also my own story. Chapter One takes you from a pre-dawn stake-out to a bourbon breakfast and a fist in the face before appearing on Democracy Now to my arrest in some Islamic oil-state by goons on BPs payroll. (They took my film but not my pen ... which contained one of those Austin Powers video-cameras.)

      "Vultures' Picnic" is different than my bestsellers "Best Democracy Money Can Buy" and "Armed Madhouse." This time, you really follow me on the investigation. Here's the no-bullshit confidential inside info on British Petroleum, on nuclear industry clowns and killers (I've got their files), on the globalization master-spiders ... the stuff you won't see on CNN about bribes, babes, beatings and a coup d'etat.

      The real-thing investigative reporting and berserker investigation.

      MK: BuzzFlash at Truthout first came to know you through the brilliant investigative work you did proving that Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris removed tens of thousands of likely Al Gore voters from casting ballots through a sub-contracted "caging" project. Since then, you've covered the gamut of corrupt corporations and governments, but you keep coming back to big oil as a culprit. What draws you back to the king of fossil fuels?

      GP: It's always about the oil - except when it's about the uranium.

      How did you end up chewing whale meat in the Arctic?

      GP: I got an urgent demand from the Chief of Intelligence of the Free Republic of the Arctic to get up to the Arctic Circle immediately. I thought, "Yeah, bullshit; someone's pretending they're Santa's elf. But it was a request from the great Eskimo leader Etok, whale-hunter and all-around bad-ass. So I shot to the Arctic and met him at a strip club, then boated over to his whale carcass, bigger than my apartment. Etok explained that I should tell the Queen (I work for BBC) that she better keep her mother**** oil wells out of his whale-hunting water. By the way, the book has films for each chapter. Here's Etok in the Whale.

      From there I found several oil industry insiders, including Pig Man, who gave me the stone cold evidence that the safety software for oil and gas pipelines had been jacked (he did it himself). Result: cracks, spills, explosions, death.

      But as you say, even in a tale of lethal corruption, there's a lot of humor in that. Sick, sick humor.

      MK: Your second-biggest target is the corrupt financial industry. You address this -- among other places in the book -- in your chapter "The Generalissimo of Globalization." You call the successful neoliberal/Phil Gramm effort to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act the decriminalization of the financial industry. In what way?

      GP: I mention that my Uncle Max, a mobster who competed with Capone (and lost) used to say, "The perfect crime is the one that's legal." I got my hands on the private emails of Timmy Geithner to Larry Summers, several confidential documents from inside the IMF [International Monetary Fund] and World Trade Organization and these things smoke. It's the secret program for kicking the crap out of any national government (Brazil is their main target) that dares to stand in the way of the banks-turned casinos.

      MK: Ironically, you were studying at the University of Chicago during the Milton Friedman years. In your chapter "The Sorcerer's Stone," you reflect on that time. How did the "Chicago School" of economics, which is still shaping the Obama administration, impact you, because your first job out of college was for a union exposing utility monopolies?

      GP: It wasn't irony - it was an undercover assignment to get in with Milton Friedman himself and the entire right-wing freak show including Art Laffer (still a guy I like).

      I wormed my way into Friedman's circle -- and the Chicago Boys helping Pinochet -- at the request of the industrial union chiefs in Chicago and some others. I didn't want to be some Marxist professor pinhead with a beard bonking his undergraduates. I was an angry kid from an LA barrio who wanted to kill these monsters and do what my failure of a father should have done.

      MK: In chapter four, you point out a greater long-term oil danger to Louisiana, for example, than the BP spill in the gulf. Would you elaborate?

      GP: Well, read the book. The oil-poisoner-in-Chief is Chevron. But that only makes sense once you meet the Rex, the King of Mardi Gras - which is a far more serious business than beads and feathered costumes.

      MK: This book is entitled "Vultures" for a reason. Do you think that in the human order of things - the way that we are wired as a species - we can ever cage the vultures who prey on the rest of us and keep them under control?

      GP: This book is about the 1% feeding on the rest of us. They are not "job creators" as Mitt Romney tells us. They've been waiting for economy to die so they can make billions - billions - on scams, flim-flams and political, military muscling.

      MK: To this day, major American corporate media outlets won't touch you because you smash through the clichés of the status quo elite and reveal the gaping lies behind the thrones of power. Is it maybe a blessing that they ignore you? After all, you're still alive.

      GP: Let me quote Asia Times: "Greg Palast, the man widely considered as the top investigative journalist in the United States, is persona non grata in his own country's media."

      US media, Murdoch'd and bought, locks me out. But it's not about me: it's that they ignore and bury the facts that I uncover. Did Anderson Cooper tell you that BP had a blow-out, nearly identical to the one in the Gulf two years earlier in the Caspian Sea? Of course not, that would require him reporting the news instead of repeating the news.

      MK: You always seem ready to take on the next story. But do you ever despair that justice can always be perverted by those with the fortunes to buy whatever they want, even governments?

      GP: I despair all the time. I've got a Pulitzer Prize in despair. I'd drink and vomit and wake up with a blonde whose name I don't know and hope she didn't remember mine. Just get nuts, angry, crazy. I want to get them and rip out their lying lungs.

      A journalist isn't supposed to say that, I know. I'm supposed to have cool; like Sam Spade.

      But then, what am going to do? I can't kill, just can't pull a trigger. So I write, I investigate.

      In fact, at the bottom of my sense of hopelessness last year, I was lying in a crap hotel room in Liberia, West Africa. Just interviewed a kid with an arm he lost in the Civil War (I tried to shake his non-hand ... I'm such a schmuck). He's got nothing and this Vulture from New York, "Doctor Hermann," was using a shell company to seize all of Liberia's civil war reconstruction money. A UN diplomat told me, the Vulture was "killing babies." I had staked out his house ... it was bigger than the Vatican, I kid you not.

      And that's when I decided to write the book; but there, in the dark room in Africa, with the rain coming down, all I could write were two words: "F**k God."
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