Monday, February 19

BBC's Palast Reveals Wealthy Bush Supporters' "Vulture Funds" Swooping Up Cancelled Third World Debt

For a man who became a bestselling author by outing a crime-ridden Bush White House within months of its 2001 Inauguration, Greg Palast outdoes himself with riveting video below on U.S. greed and evil loosened on the Third World's poorest at the expense of American generosity.

Days after the polls closed 7 November on the 2000 election, American Greg Palast couldn't interest CBS News or the New York Times in how Florida Governor Jeb Bush illegally scrubbed over 58,000 Black voters (93% of whom in Florida voted for Al Gore) from the state's voter registry.

Even two weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court* on 19 December halted Florida's hand recount-- mandated by state law in elections decided by 1% or less of the vote--with Jeb's brother ahead by 537 votes and gave George the White House, Palast reported the fraud in the London Guardian (and here) and for the BBC in February 2001.

The U.S. press and TV iced Palast's scoop by staying riveted on its nonstory about hanging "chads" in some paper ballots. And as the circus clowns say "The rest is history." Palast remained in London, regularly scooping America's even more tepid crop of post-9/11 journalists on stories about a White House that operated by its own dubious legal code.

Then in September 2002, U.S. press and TV also "overlooked" Miami's U.S. District Court's remarkable judgment on a class-action suit filed on behalf of Florida's black disenfranchised voters; the state of Florida and the infamous ChoicePoint data company, which admitted knowingly providing state officials its registry scrub list, agreed to settle with the plaintiffs' attorneys before Judge Alan S. Gold returned a decision. Palast provided the court with analysis of that list.

Last week, Palast again scooped the U.S. press corps. For the BBC, he reported from Washington and New York on how George Bush cynically allows campaign contributors to inflate and collect discharged Third World debt that they seize in court through a legal loophole--which Palast claims Bush could abolish "tomorrow with a stroke of the pen."

According to the 18 February issue of the LA Times (free registration required), 18,500 Third World children die daily from hunger. That dramatic figure translates to 6.6 million a year. Genocide by any other name....

Here's Democracy Now!'s 15 February (Thursday) headline for Palast's 12-minute report shown before his short on-air interview with Amy Goodman:

“Vulture Fund” Company Seeks $40 Million Payment from Zambia on $4 Million Debt"

If you listen closely enough, you hear Palast suggest White House officials may have misappropriated $1 billion in donations from Americans to write off Third World debt.

The segment is must-see TV (Real Player, 128k stream or 256k stream). Other watching, listening and reading options are here.

Postscript: Palast's Democracy Now! interview may have hit a congressional nerve the day it was broadcast. On Friday (16 February), Palast posted this excerpt from Amy Goodman's interview that morning with Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about how your meeting went with the President yesterday?

REP. JOHN CONYERS: Well, we talked essentially about Iraq, Katrina and the domestic breakdown that’s going on right now. But it was my job, I felt, to raise the whole question of this bond speculation that goes on at the expense of poor debtor countries, in which their debt is bought up and then they’re sued for the full amount. It’s bought up at pennies on the dollar, and then they’re sued. And I wanted to thank you [BBC Newsnight] for revealing this to us, because it allowed me to ask President Bush two questions: one, about Paul Singer and Michael Sheehan; and two, whether he would be willing to stop this incredible misuse of our government’s charity toward funding aid to our poorer nations. Continue reading ‘Citing BBC Newsnight Investigation
Congressman Conyers Confronts Bush, Demands Probe of Vulture Funds‘

*Besides a legal assessment of the High Court's controversial 5-4 decision in Bush v. Gore, Palast's confrontation of a Florida election official about the voter scrub list was featured in the excerpt below from Unprecedented: The 2000 Election, a documentary by Richard Ray Perez and Joan Selker.

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