Wednesday 27 June 2012

Vultures backing Mitt Romney and other revelations from Greg Palast's excellent book launch

L to R: John Hilary, Greg, Anna, Nick Dearden, Laurie Penny (pic by John Paul O'Neill)

L to R: Oliver Shykles, Greg Palast, Anna Chen, Warren Ellis after the book launch at ULU (pic taken by Liz Milout)

From New York Times bestselling author GREG PALAST

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Greg Palast told a rapt audience of 300 at last night's UK launch of Vultures' Picnic:
- How the Vultures are currently trying to raise over $500 million to buy the White House for the Republican hopeful Mitt Romney. Palast points out 'with these Vultures Obama has a fight on his hands to prevent them picking the bones dry of the democratic process'.
- Palast dug into the billionaires, the debt-exploiters, who are the chief funders of the Mitt Romney's Presidential campaign: people like Paul “The Vulture” Singer and his Vulture colleague known as “Goldfinger.”
- A panel chaired by writer and poet Anna Chen included writer Warren Ellis, journalist Laurie Penny, John Hilary from War On Want and Nick Dearden from the Jubilee Debt Campaign alongside Palast. Chen asked, 'In this unseen brinkmanship battle between the hedge funds and the banks, are we supposed to support the banks against the Vultures...and who is going to win'? Palast replied that this battle of the titans was like "war between the Bloods and the Crips" and sees a protracted war to the death.
- Palast continued, 'These Vultures just don't care about the system that made them billionaires. The Vultures are prepared to go right to the brink of economic collapse and wreck governments, like Greece, or the system itself. The stakes are very high, as it's ultimately between financiers to run the World and where elected politicians are marginalized; where the desire of vultures is to make politicians extinct'.
- Anna Chen observed that "Capitalism isn't dead, it just smells funny. Capitalism is mutating: it's going places, it's just not taking us with it."
- The panel were positive. Journalist Laurie Penny said 'I am, even though there has been a sustained attack on investigative journalism, very hopeful that bloggers and citizen journalists of all ages will challenge and watch every move of these so-called Vultures'.

Warren Ellis's "Money isn't real" comments here.

Azerbaijan whistle-blower Leslie Abrahams and Greg Palast


Tuesday 26 June 2012

Greg Palast on why the Euro is doing what it was designed to do

I'm probably being generous to the Tories by accusing them of wanting to take us back to Victorian levels of poverty. What I really suspect is that they want to drag us back to feudal times when the robber barons ruled and it was dog-eat-dog all the way to an early grave.

In his latest article (Guardian USA), Greg Palast explains how the Euro was designed to loosen up all that lovely public-purse moolah being wasted on pampered European population ready to be sucked up into the coffers of the class who believes it's because they're worth it.

7pm, Tuesday 26 June
The Venue, ULU, Malet St



The Euro is a Big Success - No Kidding

by Greg Palast for The Guardian USA

The idea that the euro has "failed" is dangerously naive. The euro is doing exactly what its progenitor – and the wealthy 1%-ers who adopted it – predicted and planned for it to do.

That progenitor is former University of Chicago economist Robert Mundell. The architect of "supply-side economics" is now a professor at Columbia University, but I knew him through his connection to my Chicago professor, Milton Friedman, back before Mundell's research on currencies and exchange rates had produced the blueprint for European monetary union and a common European currency.

Mundell, then, was more concerned with his bathroom arrangements. Professor Mundell, who has both a Nobel Prize and an ancient villa in Tuscany, told me, incensed:

"They won't even let me have a toilet. They've got rules that tell me I can't have a toilet in this room! Can you imagine?"

As it happens, I can't. But I don't have an Italian villa, so I can't imagine the frustrations of bylaws governing commode placement.

But Mundell, a can-do Canadian-American, intended to do something about it: come up with a weapon that would blow away government rules and labor regulations. (He really hated the union plumbers who charged a bundle to move his throne.)

"It's very hard to fire workers in Europe," he complained. His answer: the euro.

The euro would really do its work when crises hit, Mundell explained. Removing a government's control over currency would prevent nasty little elected officials from using Keynesian monetary and fiscal juice to pull a nation out of recession.

"It puts monetary policy out of the reach of politicians," he said. "[And] without fiscal policy, the only way nations can keep jobs is by the competitive reduction of rules on business."

He cited labor laws, environmental regulations and, of course, taxes. All would be flushed away by the euro. Democracy would not be allowed to interfere with the marketplace – or the plumbing.

As another Nobelist, Paul Krugman, notes, the creation of the eurozone violated the basic economic rule known as "optimum currency area". This was a rule devised by Bob Mundell.

That doesn't bother Mundell. For him, the euro wasn't about turning Europe into a powerful, unified economic unit. It was about Reagan and Thatcher.

"Ronald Reagan would not have been elected president without Mundell's influence," once wrote Jude Wanniski in the Wall Street Journal. The supply-side economics pioneered by Mundell became the theoretical template for Reaganomics – or as George Bush the Elder called it, "voodoo economics": the magical belief in free-market nostrums that also inspired the policies of Mrs Thatcher.

Mundell explained to me that, in fact, the euro is of a piece with Reaganomics:

"Monetary discipline forces fiscal discipline on the politicians as well."

And when crises arise, economically disarmed nations have little to do but wipe away government regulations wholesale, privatize state industries en masse, slash taxes and send the European welfare state down the drain.

Thus, we see that (unelected) Prime Minister Mario Monti is demanding labor law "reform" in Italy to make it easier for employers like Mundell to fire those Tuscan plumbers. Mario Draghi, the (unelected) head of the European Central Bank, is calling for "structural reforms" – a euphemism for worker-crushing schemes. They cite the nebulous theory that this "internal devaluation" of each nation will make them all more competitive.

Monti and Draghi cannot credibly explain how, if every country in the Continent cheapens its workforce, any can gain a competitive advantage.
But they don't have to explain their policies; they just have to let the markets go to work on each nation's bonds. Hence, currency union is class war by other means.

The crisis in Europe and the flames of Greece have produced the warming glow of what the supply-siders' philosopher-king Joseph Schumpeter called "creative destruction". Schumpeter acolyte and free-market apologist Thomas Friedman flew to Athens to visit the "impromptu shrine" of the burnt-out bank where three people died after it was fire-bombed by anarchist protesters, and used the occasion to deliver a homily on globalization and Greek "irresponsibility".

The flames, the mass unemployment, the fire-sale of national assets, would bring about what Friedman called a "regeneration" of Greece and, ultimately, the entire eurozone. So that Mundell and those others with villas can put their toilets wherever they damn well want to.

Far from failing, the euro, which was Mundell's baby, has succeeded probably beyond its progenitor's wildest dreams.



Investigative reporter Greg Palast arrived in London for tonight's UK launch of his explosive book, Vultures' Picnic where he and guests including graphic novelist Warren Ellis will speak to an audience alarmed by government policies currently rendering Britain unrecognisable.

Tony Blair calls him “THE LIAR,” Piers Morgan called him a sex maniac, but John Pilger says “Greg Palast's information is a hand grenade.” “Fucking brilliant,” says Mark Thomas.”

In VULTURE'S PICNIC Palast, whose investigations appear on Newsnight, Dispatches and in The Guardian, uncovers the evidence that:

- BP's Lord Browne personally engineered bribes and “sweeteners” totaling at least $48 million to oil potentates.
- BP conspired with MI6 to overthrow the elected government of Azerbaijan (this month's Eurovision Song host) to seize a no-bid lock on Caspian Sea oil. BP used lap-dancers in London and gun-runners in Asia.
- The true cause of Deepwater Horizon deaths: not an accident. BP had the same blowout two years previously in the Caspian Sea.
- In the Arctic, Palast, gagging down a luncheon of fermented whale meat with the militant Eskimo leader Etok, gets the hidden on Arctic drilling - and unexpected inside info on BP's “Pig in the Pipeline” where figures are being distorted to create favourable results for the company.

- Palast discovers that the thousands of miles pipeline that will be used to “frack” gas will we watched by a diagnostic robot that has been deliberately programmed to cover-over deadly safety defects. (It has killed in the US already.)

PIERS MORGAN — this time it's personal!
- Piers Morgan sets up Palast in a phony Page One sex scandal with “Ms. Jamaica,” a Peter Mandelson protégé. 

- Before the Fukushima nuclear reactors melted, Palast had the notebooks of the nuclear engineers who test the plants:  “No way on earth can this plant withstand an earthquake.”  Palast, a former fraud and racketeering investigator for the US Justice Department, has the inside files of the company designated to build Britain's “next generation” nuclear stations.

Saturday 23 June 2012

Greek election declared null & void by Athens Bar Association

After all the excitement surrounding the nail-biting June 17th Greek election which resulted in New Democracy beating Syriza by a whisker, I'm just hearing that the Athens Bar Association (DSA) has declared it to be null and void due to the 2001 census being used instead of the recent 2011 one. This means that immigrants who have settled in Greece and are entitled to vote were deprived of the right to do so. Immigrants are more likely to vote left and their disenfranchisement means that the party of austerity and cuts should not have won.

The DSA statement, on The Slog website, says:

IOANNIS ADAMOPOULOS, President of the Athens Bar Association (DSA).

‘The number of parliament members for every constituency being defined by presidential decree based on the legal population of the constituency that results according to the latest census, the results of the latest census are considered published based on the data gathered by the relevant services, one year after the date the census actually took place”.
In this case, the last census was completed by the National Committee of Statistics (ELSTAT) on 24th May 2011 – a date which is official, and confirmed beyond any doubt by a press release from ELSTAT.
Therefore, as a year has already passed since the last day of the completion of the above mentioned census, the number of parliamentary seats in every constituency should be defined based on the legal population of these constituencies, as derived, according to this census.
An extremely serious constitutional failure has occurred, as we estimate that substantial changes have occurred in the population distribution in every constituency in comparison with the previous census of 2001.
Not only the redistribution of the parliamentary seats in every constituency but also the redefinition of parliamentary representation of every party, is possibly at risk. In view of all the above, the DSA expresses its deep institutional concern regarding the risk of an acute constitutional crisis which is expected to cause damage to the function of the democratic institutions.’
This is, of course, not the first time that actions or omissions by ELSTAT required further investigation and criminal evaluation. We remind readers that already, since 29th September 2011, DSA has filed a law suit with regard to very serious offences committed by ELSTAT concerning the illegal overstatement of the revised deficit of 2009 to 15.4%, as a result of which we now see the subjection of Greece to the current Memorandum and the subsequent imposition of austerity and other measures on the Greek People.’’

If this turns out to be true, will they have to run another election or will they soldier on?

Friday 22 June 2012

Anna's gigs coming up

A few performances dates coming up:

Wednesday 18th July (time TBC)
Anna gives a talk on Chinese representation on the UK stage at the Chinese In Britain event at the Old Cinema, Westminster University, Regent St W1.

Thursday 28th June
Anna and Charles Shaar Murray perform at Sash Selavie's Gender Genocide evening at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern.
Also on the same bill: Jeremy Reed and The Ginger Light!; sultry Parisian Electro-chanteuse Anne Pigalle; rock star Sara Stockbridge, historical novelist, Vivienne Westwood muse and lead singer of her band Rooster with her partner, Ex Zodiac Mindwarp stalwart, Cobalt Stargazer; six-foot-six lethal showgirl, Lucy Luskini, skin safety-first burlesque alive, and stomp its' bleeding corpse; mighty Maryland diva dominatrix Gina Davis remix Stardust for the 21st Century - and beyond!

Tuesday 26th June
Anna MCs the London launch of Greg Palast's Vultures' Picnic
An evening with Greg Palast and friends,
including special guest Warren Ellis (Author of Transmetropolitan),
With Nick Dearden of Jubilee Debt Campaign and John Hilary of War on Want and Laurie Penny
7pm The Venue, ULU, Malet St
Tickets £5. Special offer: ticket and book £10
Tickets here

Friday 22nd June
Anna is a featured poet at the Farrago Poetry Slam
7pm RADA Café
Malet Street WC1E 7H
£6 (£5 conc)

Cameron brands Jimmy Carr "immoral" over tax avoidance: who else is in the frame?

So Jimmy Carr has been exposed as a greedy hypocrite for lampooning Barclays (his own bank) for tax avoidance while taking advantage of a legal scheme that allows him to pay only one per cent tax himself. Amid the photos of his lovely £8.5m Hampstead home and his shiny Bentley (in which we all have a stake now), we might have lost sight of who it is who's looting the public purse on a grand scale. Vodafone and "Sir" Philip Green spring to mind, not forgetting David Harnett, the former head of HMRC, who allowed some flagrantly unfair deals to go through.

David Cameron certainly seems to think Carr is the worst miscreant when he labelled him "immoral", but is he the worst? Here's a graphic putting it in perspective.

Royalty sycophant Gary Barlow — who was awarded an OBE for mounting a show of staggering mediocrity for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations — may not have been one of the main players in terms of the £26m tax he avoids with Take That but he was strangely left off Cameron's Rogues Gallery of one, possibly because he is a Tory?

The Mirror reminds Cameron about some of the others who deserve a roll-call of dishonour.

While all eyes are on the showbiz star, the government sneaks in the abandonment of a promise to make their own tax affairs transparent — see what they did there? No word of closing the loopholes or clawing tax back from the richest, just a smirking pledge by Cameron to allow France's wealthy to take refuge in the UK when Hollande makes them pay a fairer rate of tax — he was elected, remember, while the Tories were not. We are recapitalising the banks, they are paying themselves bonuses out of our bail-outs, but that is not immoral. Worse, it's not illegal, either. Government's make the laws, so they could have cleared this up ages ago.

The original exposé came from the Murdoch press, so excuse me while I laugh my guts up. Carr is far from being the biggest target for our wrath. As Father Ted said holding up a tiny toy cow, "No, Dougall, this cow is small. That cow (a real one in a field) is big."

Friday 15 June 2012

Raw octopus spunk impregnates woman's mouth

Aargh! Official: octopussy is safer than octocock. Tiny octopuddies implant themselves in a woman's delicate mucous membrane when ejaculated during a sushi meal. Sex and food, my favourite combo. True and gruesome, fugu fish now has a rival in culinary Russian Roulette. And I thought liver flukes were all you had to worry about.

Watch out for high speed octosperm. " ... a spermatophore is similar to a cup of semen."

Here's the bit you need to read from the report in The Daily Mail (don't knock it til you try it!).
'Twelve small, white spindle-shaped, bug-like organisms stuck in the mucous membrane of the tongue, cheek, and gingiva [gums] were completely removed, along with the affected mucosa.
'On the basis of their morphology and the presence of the sperm bag, the foreign bodies were identified as squid spermatophores.' ... According to Science 2.0, a spermatophore is similar to a cup of semen.
The website says: 'Each spermatophore includes an ejaculatory apparatus, which can expel the sperm mass quite forcefully, and a cement body for attachment.'

So many questions: what would have happened if they'd come to full term? Where's the Church on this? What would you name them? Could you sign them up for Eton?

Tuesday 12 June 2012

London Olympics 2012 pastoral opening ceremony: sucking at every level

UPDATE 12 July 2012 at the end of this post.

Let them snort coke. It was announced today that the centrepiece of the London Olympics 2012 opening ceremony is to be a pastoral idyll. Sheep & cows will star — Marie Antoinette would be proud.

The fact that Britain was the world's first industrial nation with the first working class will take up ten minutes of the three-hour mediaeval fantasy opener — costing £27mn and directed by Danny Boyle — puts the politics into a screwed-up perspective. I wonder if Highland clearances and enclosures will feature, although I am reminded that modern clearances have already taken place with local authority housing tenants banished hundreds of miles away from their Tower Hamlets home. Not to mention the geographical exclusion zones that allow the games' organisers to bully small local businesses with the temerity to mock up their own olympic rings from flowers or hula-hoops.

How is it possible for such a major event to suck at every level? I mean at EVERY level. Even the Olympic Torch. Who cares if some of the 8,000 torch-bearers have emulated the sponsors (as above, so below) and tried to make a few bucks from their torches? It's penny ante stuff compared with the money to be made from fleecing a captive audience with overpriced food and drink (expect your water bottles to be confiscated at the border) and fewer than ten ATMs in the entire Olympic Park now that VISA have had the other twenty cash dispensers belonging to rivals ripped out.

Far more significant to the ethics of the event was the Olympic Torch route taking in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. No mention, of course, that Lewis was purchased by James Matheson (later Sir) in 1844 with his narcotics money made from selling opium to China alongside his partner William Jardine. Matheson created his own rural idyll by expelling 500 locals from Lewis in 1851 (1,771 in total), packing them off to Canada, and building Lews Castle at Stornoway for himself. So the Tower Hamlets clearances have at least one Olympic-connected precedent.

The sponsors comprise a rogues' gallery of some of the most despised corporations in the world. Food giants Coca-Cola and McDonalds — making us fat on crap (very athletic); Dow Chemicals who still haven't cleared up the mess and human misery resulting from the Union Carbide chemical explosion at Bhopal in 1984 which killed 3,000 within the first few weeks and injured half a million more; the ArcelorMittal steel giant whose queasy acquisition of Romania's national steel factories required the help of Tony Blair to whose party he'd donated £250,000; Adidas uses worker-abusing Li & Fung; perversely, ATOS, the French company chucking sick people off incapacity allowance is a big name behind the Paralympics (Jon Ronson video report here); BP whose corruption under Lord Browne and prior blowout in Azerbaijan two years before the Deepwater Horizon gush in the Gulf of Mexico is documented in Greg Palast's Vultures' Picnic.

Although the sponsors paid only two per cent of the total Olympics cost, they are receiving an estimated 38 per cent of the tickets while the actual talent — the athletes themselves — have been allocated a parsimonious two tickets for their own events. The ticket sales have been a long-running fiasco.

Then there's the militarisation of the event in the name of security. Missiles located on blocks of flats — Bow Quarter, a large apartment complex close to the Olympic stadium and Fred Wigg Tower, a 16 storey residential tower block in Walthamstow, east London — include a load that don't work in bad weather; G4S, the world's biggest security company in the world (actually an army) acted as hired guns for illegal Israeli settlers and will police the London games despite being accused of human rights infringements; HMS Ocean warship moored in the Thames; promises to shoot down hijacked planes even if they're over London's intensive urban sprawl: this is all increasingly reminiscent of Terry Gilliam's dystopian film Brazil, itself based on George Orwell's 1984.

And don't get me started on the transport nightmare expected to start a full TWO WEEKS before the start as media and athletes arrive. My home city turns into a no-go area for drivers; getting to the events; and the press are carping about stressed-out public transport drivers getting a measly £500 bonus. Cheap at twice the price.

But with several Goldman Sachs bankers — past and present — associated with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Locog) board, what do you expect?

If this turns out to be the final Olympics before everything turns to shit and World War 3 erupts for real, it will actually have been most apt and I congratulate the organisers for their cynicism and prescience. Have a nice day.

Bread and circuses but not for everyone: In this age of austerity and cuts imposed on those most in need, the government and Olympics organisers have some strange priorities. We found £11bn for the games, yet British people are struggling to survive. Interviews by Kate Belgrave.

Tax swindle at the "ethical" Olympics

The Austerity Games 23rd July, Hackney Marshes

Dave Renton on The Neo-liberal Games.

Comments on the games including the destruction of potential assets to the community such as the new bridge over the A11.

UPDATE 12 JULY 2012: It gets worser and worser, even.
G4S assured government of finding 10,000 security staff only two weeks ago, now admit failure. Army to send in 3,500 troops just back from Afghanistan.
Locals lose fight to halt ground-to-air missiles being based on their roof at Fred Wigg Tower. We note that there are none on the posh blocks lining the Thames.
Democracy and freedom of speech bite the dust as banned items at the Olympics include bottles of water and Che Guevara T-shirts.
Chips banned as MacDonalds demands right to be sole purveyor of fries at the Olympics.
Politicians trough down as MPs accept free top tickets, including from BT despite conflict of interest.
All the fat cats are larding up while poor musicians are expected to perform for free.
More exploitation.
And now a new TONY BLAIR SCARE ...
Not only back but rumoured to be showcasing his private clinic NHS bloodfest at the Olympics: Mee Healthcare (of course!

Friday 8 June 2012

Greg Palast Vultures' Picnic London launch 26 June

Vultures' Picnic: feasting with the on one per cent by Greg Palast, is launched 26th June in London (an event extraordinaire which I am delighted to have been invited to MC). The video above gives you a taste of why the book is important while an unrestrained feral elite steals everything in sight.

An evening with GREG PALAST
With Warren Ellis, Anna Chen, Laurie Penny, Nick Dearden, John Hilary
26 June - 'The Venue', ULU, Malet Street, London at 7pm - 9 pm

Greg Palast will be joined by special guests Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Crooked Little Vein), Anna Chen (Madam Miaow Says - Blog), Laurie Penny ( of The New Statesman, Penny Red), Nick Dearden (Jubilee Debt Campaign) and John Hilary (War On Want) for the launch of the UK edition of Palast's new book,
VULTURES' PICNIC: A Tale of Oil, High Finance and Investigative Reporting

In association with Jubilee Debt Campaign, Greenpeace and Occupy London and War On Want.

Seats are very limited, so reserve yours here now.

A minimum donation of £10 gets you admission and a signed copy of Palast's new book, Vultures' Picnic.
£5 minimum donation for admission only.

Vultures’ Picnic is an eye-opening, heart-pumping, mind-blowing experience that should not, MUST not, be missed. - Nomi Prins

Download and read Chapter 1: Goldfinger.
Or you can pre-order Vultures' Picnic here.

if you have friends in London make sure they don't miss this.

See you in London,

BP Blowout at Crooks & Liars

Greg Palast on Twitter

On Facebook

Media enquiries to

Sunday 3 June 2012

Steampunk Opium Wars: gorgeous new photos & poems

Finally uploaded the lovely portraits taken by Sukey Parnell of the cast of The Steampunk Opium Wars debut at the National Maritime Museum in London earlier this year.

As well as Sukey's pix, the poems written by cast-members are also on these pages.

There's a serious intention in writing and performing the show. After we performed it, we were all pleased to hear audience members telling us that this was all new to them. However, I was then shocked to read Julia Lovell's The Opium War, published last year to acclaim and some pretty critique-free reviews. Reading it felt like having someone yelling "You're shit and you know you are!" in your face for hours on end.

Revisionist "historians" do this from time to time. The most shocking example is probably the move to blame Afro-Caribbeans for their wretched slavery because some black people and Arabs helped to run the slave trade in Africa. I hope The Steampunk Opium Wars is an antidote to some of the callous rewriting of this part of history.


Saturday 2 June 2012

Time is All Wrong: new poem about bankers, politicians, crisis and us

The bankers staged a coup while out attention was elsewhere and now everything is run for them. This item from December— found by Niall Spooner-Harvey — sums up the situation:
Unchecked by toothless regulators and set free by poorly drawn capital requirements, the banks rampaged across the continent, chucking cheap money at Greece and Italy, on the tacit assumption, now explicit, that if something went wrong, their richer friends in the eurozone would bail them out.

So I just wrote this.

Time is All Wrong

Time is all wrong, the wrong way round
We are caught in the slack wake
Trailing the event to the horizon's
Razor edge and the Fall.

Where is the slick anticipation,
The chess-player's stratagem?
Too late the creeping realisation
Slow-burns to a new dawn

Of how philosophers were babes after all,
How we were mastered when
We thought we were free
And history was at an end.

It was just a new start
The sky casts its net
They have us in their sights
We were asleep and awaken too late.

(c) Anna Chen 2nd June 2012

Inspired by Paul Krugman, Greg Palast and the voices of those who took the red pill now being heard.

Friday 1 June 2012

Paul Krugman explains why austerity does not work

Hilarious, in a grim way, watching Tory cutters trying to argue with the Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman on BBC Newsnight.

Ooh, morality, yet!

A nation of shopkeeper but without the customers and, increasingly, without the shops.