Posts Tagged ‘BP’

Palast Takes on Petroleum Pigs

February 8th, 2012

Book Review: Vultures’ Picnic by Greg Palast
Greg Palast–the gumshoe investigative reporter fueled by an outrage he expresses in exasperated wisecracks–returns to bookshelves with Vultures’ Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates, and High-Finance Carnivores.

Palast, who lefty commentator Jim Hightower called “a cross between Sam Spade and Sherlock Holmes,” (Palast wears the felt hat of Spade rather than the wooly deerstalker of Holmes, by the way) is a former corporate fraud and racketeering investigator-turned journalist.
Palast can be seen regularly on the BBC, but is almost invisible on the U.S. broadcast media. (I’ve never seen him on anything except C-SPAN.) However, in another life I interviewed Greg several times on a political news podcast. I always found him engaging, informed and incredibly passionate. We sparred a little on his apparent belief in the pure motives of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, but ultimately I think Palast is well-intentioned and forthright. (And where would many of us have looked in the early days of the George W. Bush administration for any glimmer of hope that we were right about that turd other than Palast?)
He’s also brave. Check that–Palast and his investigative team are brave. Rickety planes to nowhere, uniformed thugs swinging batons and even ham-fisted attempts at blackmail have left them undeterred in their muckraking mission. Hell, they relish it. Just ask Miss Badpenny or photojournalist Zach Roberts. They sure as hell aren’t there for the money:

In Vultures’ Picnic ($26.95 Dutton, 2011 404 pages) Palast starts with the disaster of the Deepwater Horizon and leads the reader down the rabbit hole of corruption, cover-ups and unrestrained greed in the oil, energy and banking industries. Governments don’t get off easy, either.

“The world runs on oil,” a member of the Petroleum Club heading out there to the Wild East told me. “and oil runs on payoffs and pussy.” It’s not a sentiment you’d find on a Hallmark cared, but then, the strongmen of the new Islamic republics don’t get Hallmark cards. Britain’s ambassador to Uzbekistan (ask Herman Cain if you can’t find it on a map–that’s me, not Palast saying that) mentioned that Uzbek President Karimov boiled his opponents alive, not something you bring up at state dinners.

I could go on. Suffice it to say that Palast smacks BP, Big Oil and hell yes, his old target Karl Rove (vote caging, election rigging–shades of Palast’s previous tour de force The Best Democracy Money Can Buy) with flair and a facility with words that is unrivaled in his profession. Does he corroborate everything with unimpeachable sources? No. Palast reports in hope that the verisimilitude of his tales and the credibility of his character will carry it through. That’s good enough for me.
I believe Palast; I have no reason not to. And more’s the pity: for all its entertainment value Vultures’ Picnic would be more fun to read if it weren’t so devastatingly obvious that the world is as pitch black as the oil that runs it.

Rave on Greg. Howl into the blackness.


Disclosure: Simon’s Groove received a free copy of this book from Greg Palast’s office to read and review. We plan to keep it.

Oil Spill Response: ‘Army Of Temp Workers’ Bused To Grand Isle For Obama Appearance Leave Soon Afterward

May 29th, 2010



President Barack Obama made a trip to Grand Isle, Louisiana to discuss the measures being taken to bring some form of relief to the region and the actions being taken to both stem the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and prevent future calamities from happening. Over at Yahoo’s Newsroom, Brett Michael Dykes reports that for the occasion, Grand Isle was “invaded by an army of temp workers to spruce it up for the president and the national news crews following in his wake.”

How temporary were these workers? As it turns out, pretty damn temporary!

Chris Roberts, a Jefferson Parish councilman whose district encompasses Grand Isle, told Yahoo! News that BP had bused in “hundreds” of temporary workers to work on the cleanup of local beaches. And as soon as the president was en route back to Washington, the workers were clearing out of Grand Isle, as well.
“The level of cleanup and cooperation we’ve gotten from BP in the past is in no way consistent to the effort shown on the island today,” Roberts said by telephone. “As soon as the president left, they were immediately put back on the buses and sent home.”


Oil Spill Response: ‘Army Of Temp Workers’ Bused To Grand Isle For Obama Appearance Leave Soon Afterward.