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Greg Palast’s Vultures’ Picnic and Why we Occupy: My Review 

Last week, I had the privilege of attending New York Times Bestselling author, Greg Palast's talk (hosted by KPFK and Brad Friedman of “Brad Blog”) about his latest book, Vultures’ Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates, and High-Finance Carnivores.

Palast is as intense and engaging in person as he is gripping and illuminating in his no-nonsense prose. His impeccable wit, biting humor, and startling facts provide a level of hard-core journalism that every 'non-Vulture' must pay attention to. The manner in which he ferrets out, and exposes, pertinent information about untold stories behind the world’s most heinous Vulture attacks is reminiscent of the kind of old-school journalism dying amidst the sad onslaught of 24/7 hour media stories about the Kardashians, sprinkled with 'real news' stories about bipartisan playground fights.

His energy is infectious. His indignation is compelling. His data are irrefutable – and so damn far-reaching.

Against the backdrop of over 4200 nationwide arrests (and counting) of the Occupy Wall Street movement’s protesters in a twisted policy of jail the student / hail the bankers, Palast eviscerates the idea that the 99% must have a physical location or pat ‘bumper-sticker’ demand sound bite in order to be viable.

“Why do we Occupy?” he asks, animated, beneath his signature fedora. 

Vultures’ Picnic answers that question in dramatic detail and biting whodunit monologue and dialogue, the kind that could easily fill a riveting Mission Impossible film where Tom Cruise ricochets into the lairs of the bad guys to save the world from the big bad oil company. Yet all of Palast's and his team’s findings are shockingly true and infinitely more visceral. Palast and his team get everywhere

In Chapter Three, “Pig in the Pipeline,” Palast dines with Etok (‘one bad-ass Eskimo’) inside a whale-carcass. He discovers the extent to which BP (which dumped a quarter million gallons of crude into the tundra via the BP/Alaska pipeline, blessed by the drill-baby-drill mentality in the minds of Sarah Palin and Barack Obama alike) faked pipeline safety reports. Meanwhile, the firm’s oil spillage is displacing the polar bear population to such an extent that there are campaigns to find them new homes.

In Chapter Five, “The Cheese Smelled Funny So We Threw It in the Jungle,” Palast journeys through the Ecuador rain forests, and traverses the river – not in a riverboat, but in a ‘dug-out log with a hand-carved paddle’ - searching for Emergildo Criollo, who is ‘a con man, a trickster'– according to a Chevron lawyer. Palast finds that Chief Criollo was a rag-tag famer, whose life has been turned upside down by Chevron. He tells Palast the extent of Chevron’s destruction, unviewed by the mainstream media. As Palast writes, “The miles of slithering contamination here in the Amazon made the Gulf Coast look like Kew Gardens.” Indeed, Chevron tried to stab BP in the back to deflect attention from its own shameful practices. Meanwhile, Criollo's three-year old went swimming in the oil-slicked waters, began to vomit blood, and died quickly. His other son died slowly, of cancer.  Chevron tried to shirk responsibility – as in yeah, maybe it’s the oil’s fault – but can you prove it’s our oil? And yes, Palast can – with real reports – pointing to the shredding of documents – in other words, with real evidence of obstruction of justice.

Palast also provides personal anecdotes, including recounting some of his own family history before describing a surprise, heart-warming standing ovation at the bequest of Martin Luther King III during a 40th anniversary Civil Right dinner in Birmingham, Alabama where, Palast adds, with inimitable wryness, he  ‘got a seat at the back.’

Palast exposes a plethora of criminals killing nature and people, the folly of President Obama’s holier-than-though attitude about a corrupt African leader buying $150,000 diamond-encrusted ties funded by an American businessman, and the Teflon nature of the men that ‘cage’ votes, like Federal Prosecutor Tim Griffin, to capture elections.

Our world is warped, and the Vultures’ Picnic takes place on the carcasses of the human population – whether in financial terms by ripping off small towns, pension funds and mortgage holders, or through the slaughtering of forests, sea-life, animals, and village children. Why do we Occupy ? Because we can’t let the Vultures continue gorging themselves at our expense. 

Palast has not only pushed the envelope of investigative journalism, but the very media with which books  - including e-books--are read. For Vultures’ Picnic is not just a book - incorporating extensive footage of his interviews and supporting documentation for his findings - it is an amazing multi-media experience complete with a how-to-be-Sherlock-Holmes-yourself tutorial mixed in. Vultures’ Picnic is an eye-opening, heart-pumping, mind-blowing experience that should not, MUST not, be missed.


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Reader Comments (3)

Like your post this interview is disturbing and should be listened to..

A Former CIA Covert Operative On the Oligarchy
Then finally we are joined in the studio by Barry Eisler who served
for three years as a CIA covert operative and is now a best-selling
author. His latest book is “The Detachment” in which the antagonists
are a powerful cabal called the oligarchy. We discuss the real
oligarchy, the one that represents the one percent, from the
perspective of one who served the oligarchy, working inside the
enforcement arm of the American Empire

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrich

AMEN! A great review on a great piece of investigative journalism!

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterR D

Revolutions can traditionally be fought and won by minority complainants. Probably, not any more. The bad guys did a very smart thing in making our economy go in the tank before they intensified their bold moves. With middle America preoccupied with job security, how do you get the military or police to hold back from enforcing un-constitutional orders? They will come down on the average citizen, if need be, to hang on to their paychecks. Occupiers, truthers, rad-libs, are all standing in the rain without the common man on their side. But the common man, the silent majority, the tea partiers, are castrated by the myths of our era. They are so busy waving the flag, they can't see they are in the same hole as their more politicized neighbors. There is a device, a pry bar that can be employed to loosen the bindings on their minds. That tool, is 9/11. The evidence that 9/11 was an inside job is fairly overwhelming, but the folks who need to see this evidence, refuse to look at it. The courageous among us should consider the gains possible from exposing our middle American friends to the mind liberating, deprogramming effects of the 9/11 movies, essays, and youtube vignets. The evidence of government guilt is lying all about. If America could wake up to 9/11, that might lead to a revusion over what they are doing to us, and doing to others, in our name.

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterQuahog King
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