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Billionaire Bankster Penny Pritzker Breaks into Obama’s Cabinet


Greg Palast | Investigative Reporter

Thursday, May 2, 2013

By Greg Palast 

You made fun of me when I suggested that President Barack Obama would nominate a confessed bank scammer, a loan-sharking mortgage predator, to his cabinet.  But thar she blows!

Today, Obama has named Penny Pritzker Secretary of Commerce. As the President says, It’s a milestone:  the first female fraudster to hold that post. No longer will criminal bankers have to lobby the administration – because now they’ll have one of their own in the Cabinet.

The following is taken from the Chapter, “Penny’s from Heaven?” you’ll find in my bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits.  [Get a copy, I’ll sign it, and you send it to the President.]

We never heard of this guy Barack Obama until 2004. Less than three years before taking the presidency, he was in the Illinois state senate, a swamp of scammers, backhanders, and party machine tools – not a stellar launch pad for the White House. And then, one day, state Sen. Barack Obama was visited by his fairy godmother. Her name is Penny Pritzker.

Pritzker’s net worth is listed in Forbes as $1.8 billion, which is one hell of a heavy magic wand in the world of politics. Her wand would have been heavier, and her net worth higher, except that in 2001, the federal government fined her and her family $460 million for the predatory, deceitful, racist tactics and practices of Superior, the bank-and-loan-shark operation she ran on the South Side of Chicago.

Superior was the first of the deregulated go-go banks to go bust – at the time, the costliest failure ever. US taxpayers lost nearly half a billion dollars. Superior’s depositors lost millions and poor folk in Sen. Obama’s South Side district lost their homes.

Penny did not like paying $460 million. No, not one bit. What she needed was someone to give her Hope and Change. She hoped someone would change the banking regulators and the Commerce Department so she could get away with this crap.

Pritzker introduced Obama, the neophyte state senator, to the Ladies Who Lunch (that’s really what they call themselves) on Chicago’s Gold Coast. Obama got lunch, gold and better – an introduction to Robert Rubin. Rubin is a former Secretary of the Treasury, former chairman of Goldman Sachs and former co-chairman of Citibank. Even atheists recognized Rubin as the Supreme Deity of Wall Street.

Rubin opened the doors to finance industry vaults for Obama. Extraordinarily for a Democrat, Obama in 2008 raised three times as much from bankers as his Republican opponent.

So what did Citibank’s Rubin get for showering Obama with gold? Obama agreed to take care of Rubin’s poodles, Larry Summers and Tim Geithner. They became Obama’s first cabinet picks: Summers as Economics Czar and Geithner as his czarina, Secretary of the Treasury.

Geithner and Summers were the gents who, under Treasury Secretary Rubin, designed the deregulation of banking. In effect, they had decriminalized the kind of financial flim-flammery that brought the planet to its knees while bringing Rubin, Pritzker and the banksters loads of lucre.

So, in 2008, Summers and Geithner were put back in the saddle – Obama’s horse but Rubin’s saddle.

Rubin received more than $100 million from Citigroup, the gargantuan commercial bank/investment bank/casino created by deregulation. It is worth a mention that Rubin’s centi-million-dollar payoff went unchallenged by Citi’s new owner, the US Treasury, which had put up more than a trillion dollars in loans and guarantees to pull Rubin’s creature out of bankruptcy.

Rubin rocked, but Penny was pissed off. Pritzker had taken this state senator/community organizer from the ghetto, made him a US Senator, then, as Obama’s campaign finance chairwoman, raised a mind-blowing three-quarters of a billion dollars to make him president.

In return, in 2008, Obama decided to make his patron Penny the Secretary of Commerce. But then, in November 2008, just as Obama was about to submit her nomination to Congress, a bunch of Pritzker’s victims marched on Washington. They were not from her busted bank, but unhappy workers from the lucrative nursing homes that her family owns through a string of complex offshore trusts. Obama slammed the door on Penny pronto.

The Pritzker family made its billions mostly from Hyatt Hotels and Hyatt nursing homes. Penny, on the Hyatt board of directors, is an infamously combative anti-union apostle. UNITE HERE, the union that represents Hyatt workers, has called for an international boycott of Hyatt hotels. In 2012, UNITE HERE and its parent, the AFL-CIO, were crucial to Obama’s winning Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. So, in this last campaign, Obama had to keep his billionairess heiress on the down-low.

Obama appeared to keep the door shut on Pritzker throughout the 2012 campaign, reducing her to hosting an election fundraiser at her Gold Coast digs, which she had to bill as a Goldman Sachs PAC event. This marks possibly the first time and last time anyone used Goldman Sachs as a PR cover.

But today, with the unions’ money and votes already pocketed and counted, Obama can give working folks The Finger and give Penny her pound of flesh: the Commerce post.

The New York Times says that, “At Commerce, Ms. Pritzker could provide the president with a new way to reach out to the business community.” The last time Pritzker reached out to the business community was to sell them sub-prime mortgage securities, worthless bags of financial feces manufactured by Superior Bank.

By giving Penny, the Piggy Banker, Commerce, we have to change Obama’s rating to sub-prime.

I do note that some woman’s organizations are applauding the appointment of the first female to the Commerce post.  But I prefer to honor the victims of the Chicago femme fatale.  Most of Penny’s victims, busted bank borrowers and underpaid health care workers, are women, too. But, unlike those wounded and destroyed by Pritzker, she worked hard for her money: it was not easy inheriting her first billion from her daddy.

* * * * * * * *

Greg Palast earned his degree in finance at the University of Chicago but has since gone legit.  View his reports for BBC Television, Vice Magazine and more at http://www.GregPalast.com

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures’ Picnic, just named Book of the Year on BBC Newsnight Review.

via Greg Palast | Investigative Reporter.

via Greg Palast | Investigative Reporter.

Billionaire Burglar Breaks into Obama’s Cabinet Pinch-Penny Pritzker pockets Commerce post


A parade of media reports this week name Penny Pritzker as Obama’s prime choice for Secretary of Commerce. No longer will criminal bankers have to lobby the administration – because now they’ll have one of their own in the Cabinet.

We never heard of this guy Barack Obama until 2004. Less than three years before taking the presidency, he was in the Illinois state senate, a swamp of scammers, backhanders, and party machine tools – not a stellar launch pad for the White House. And then, one day, state Sen. Barack Obama was visited by his fairy godmother. Her name is Penny Pritzker.

Penny’s from Heaven?

Penny’s from Heaven?

Pritzger’s net worth is listed in Forbes as $1.8 billion, which is one hell of a heavy magic wand in the world of politics. Her wand would have been heavier, and her net worth higher, except that in 2001, the federal government fined her and her family $460 million for the predatory, deceitful, racist tactics and practices of Superior, the bank-and-loan-shark operation she ran on the South Side of Chicago.

Superior was the first of the deregulated go-go banks to go bust – at the time, the costliest failure ever. US taxpayers lost nearly half a billion dollars. Superior’s depositors lost millions and poor folk in Sen. Obama’s South Side district lost their homes.

Penny did not like paying $460 million. No, not one bit. What she needed was someone to give her Hope and Change. She hoped someone would change the banking regulators so she could get away with this crap.

Pritzker introduced Obama, the neophyte state senator, to the Ladies Who Lunch (that’s really what they call themselves) on Chicago’s Gold Coast. Obama got lunch, gold and better – an introduction to Robert Rubin. Rubin is a former Secretary of the Treasury, former chairman of Goldman Sachs and, when Robert met Barry, co-chairman of Citibank. Even atheists recognized Rubin as the Supreme Deity of Wall Street.

Rubin opened the doors to finance industry vaults for Obama. Extraordinarily for a Democrat, Obama in 2008 raised three times as much from bankers as his Republican opponent.

So what did Citibank’s Rubin get for showering Obama with gold? Obama agreed to take care of Rubin’s poodles, Larry Summers and Tim Geithner. They became Obama’s first cabinet picks: Summers as Economics Czar and Geithner as his czarina, Secretary of the Treasury.

Geithner and Summers were the gents who, under Treasury Secretary Rubin, designed the deregulation of banking. In effect, they had decriminalized the kind of financial flim-flammery that brought the planet to its knees while bringing Rubin, Pritzker and the banksters loads of lucre.

So, in 2008, Summers and Geithner were put back in the saddle – Obama’s horse but Rubin’s saddle.

Rubin received more than $100 million from Citigroup, the gargantuan commercial bank/investment bank/casino created by deregulation. It is worth a mention that Rubin’s centi-million-dollar payoff went unchallenged by Citi’s new owner, the US Treasury, which had put up more than a trillion dollars in loans and guarantees to pull Rubin’s creature out of bankruptcy.

Rubin rocked, but Penny was pissed off.

Pritzker had taken this state senator/community organizer from the ghetto, made him a US Senator, then, as Obama’s campaign finance chairwoman, raised a mind-blowing three-quarters of a billion dollars to make him president.

In return, in 2008, Obama decided to make his patron Penny the Secretary of Commerce. But then, in November 2008, just as Obama was about to submit her nomination to Congress, a bunch of Pritzker’s victims marched on Washington. They were not from her busted bank, but unhappy workers from the lucrative nursing homes that her family owns through a string of complex offshore trusts. Obama slammed the door on Penny pronto.

In the 2012 campaign, Obama, to his credit, kept the door shut on Pritzker, reducing her to hosting an election fundraiser at her Gold Coast digs, which she had to bill as a Goldman Sachs PAC event. This marks possibly the first time anyone has used Goldman Sachs as a PR cover.

The Pritzker family made its billions mostly from Hyatt Hotels and Hyatt nursing homes. Penny, on the Hyatt board of directors, is an infamously combative anti-union apostle. UNITE HERE, the union that represents Hyatt workers, has called for an international boycott of Hyatt hotels. In 2012, UNITE HERE and its parent, the AFL-CIO, were crucial to Obama’s winning Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. So, in this last campaign, Obama had to keep his billionairess heiress on the down-low.

But today, with the unions’ money and votes already pocketed and counted, Obama can give working folks The Finger and give Penny her pound of flesh: the Commerce post.

The New York Times says that, “At Commerce, Ms. Pritzker could provide the president with a new way to reach out to the business community.” The last time Pritzker reached out to the business community was to sell them sub-prime mortgage securities, worthless bags of financial feces manufactured by Superior Bank.

If Penny the Piggy Banker gets Commerce, we’ll have to drop Obama’s rating to sub-prime.

So what are you going to do about it?

via Greg Palast | Investigative Reporter.

via Greg Palast | Investigative Reporter.

Is the Euro a Weapon of Mass destruction?


Is the Euro a Weapon of Mass destruction

There has been a very conscious use of the Euro to drive these right wing politics through, behind the backs of voters, who have constantly been lied to about the real intent of their European project.

How much longer are people of Ireland going to be fooled ?

Read on

Robert Mundell, evil genius of the euro – Greg Pallast

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.

via Robert Mundell, evil genius of the euro | Greg Palast | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

via Robert Mundell, evil genius of the euro | Greg Palast | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

No Fracking in Ireland -Greg Palast | Investigative Reporter


by Greg Palast for No Fracking Ireland

On the 20th of April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew out in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven men instantly, then destroying 600 miles of coastline. On 9 September 2010, a natural gas pipeline exploded in San Bruno, California, burning eight to death, one of several recent pipeline explosions in the USA. In 1992, in Chicago, a gas pipe leaked and 18 houses exploded, incinerating three people.

What do these deaths have to do with plans for “fracking” for natural gas in Ireland?

Everything. It was my job to investigate these three explosions, the Deepwater Horizon and California explosions as a reporter for the UK Channel 4’s Dispatches, the earliest as a US government investigator. In all three cases, the deaths were preceded by the same reassurances about the safety of drilling and piping that I read now in the debate about fracking in Ireland.

First, the Deepwater Horizon.  Eleven men died when the ‘mud’ – drilling cement meant to cap the wellhead – failed and methane gas blew out the top of the pipes and exploded. The Shannon Basin is not the Gulf of Mexico, but your safety will be just as dependent on Halliburton’s mud.

Can we trust Halliburton’s reassurances? The owners of the Deepwater Horizon have told a US court that they’ve discovered that Halliburton hid critical information that the well cement could fail. Halliburton  denies the cover-up.  But cover-up or not, the cement failed as it has several times recently in the US in wells drilled for fracking. In all cases, including the contamination of water supplies in Pennsylvania (where some residents could set their tap water alight with a match), drilling was preceded by mollifying studies indicating that all was safe.  But they failed to see all the looming dangers.

In Ireland, you haven’t even done the studies. The University of Aberdeen study for the Irish Environmental Protection Agency has been played as some kind of endorsement for charging ahead with fracking in Ireland – but this is not the case if you actually read the study. The University study is, in fact, a long series of warnings that proposed drilling methods, the local geology and the potential impacts on water quality all require studies not even begun. It also points to the necessity of creating a regulatory system not now in place which can cope with watching thousands of explosive, toxic well-sites.

The Shannon river basin is a truly eyebrow-raising place to blindly drill thousands of wells.  It’s located in proximity to one of Irelands few major aquifers (your drinking water supply) and the drilling will be relatively shallow.  Where I live in the State of New York, the government, though a major booster of fracking, has banned the fracking of shallow shale deposits and banned the process from all locations near our aquifers.  The US experience is not comforting.

Horizontal fracking (as proposed for Irish deposits) requires explosive charges to be fired along miles of pipe underground (and under houses and water supplies) followed by the pumping of fluids at high pressure through these pipes. The result has been man-made earthquakes.  Buildings don’t fall down, but cracks bring hydrocarbon poisons into the aquifers.  In the vast uninhabited wastes of the American Dakotas, we simply abandon water systems.  Where in Ireland can you do that?

And then there are the pipelines.  The fracked gas doesn’t get to market by carrier pigeon.  Ireland has had virtually no discussion of the difficulties, danger and cost of running hundreds, and ultimately, thousands of miles of gathering pipes. I’ve been investigating the horror of pipeline explosions for three decades now and the problem is exponentially worsened by the new web of lines created by fracking. Highly explosive transport systems require an elaborate system of on-site government regulation which Ireland does not have and cannot now afford. And it’s simply too easy for the PIGs to cheat.

A PIG is a Pipeline Inspection Gauge, a robot that looks like a mechanical porker with wire whiskers that crawls through pipes hunting for corrosion, cracks, leaks and trouble.  When the PIG ’squeals’, the pipes must be dug up and replaced. And that’s frightfully expensive.

It especially frightens the executives who have to pay for pipe replacement. So, what I’ve found and reported is that the providers of software and its users are aware that the PIGs’ diagnostic computer code, which converts the squeals of the PIG into warnings, has flaws which understate dangers. And the results have been horribly predictable:  Despite the reassuring noises from the PIGs, pipes have leaked, polluted, exploded and killed.

Is there a safe way to frack?  Probably:  but not profitably; and certainly not within the geology of a little emerald isle. I am weary of appearing at scenes of death and destruction when cement fails, pipes crack and tremors spew poisons only to hear a gas or oil company executive’s PR flack issue an apology. I doubt those apologies will sound better in Gaelic.

——–

Re-prints permitted with credit to the author.

Greg Palast is the author of Vultures’ Picnic (Penguin 2011), which centers on his investigation of BP, bribery and corruption in the oil industry. Palast, whose reports are seen on BBC-TV and Britain’s Channel 4.

via Greg Palast | Investigative Reporter.

via Greg Palast | Investigative Reporter.

Ireland Totally Unsuited to Fracking – Greg Palast


Greg Palast in Dublin. Photo: William Hederman

Ireland is totally unsuited to the process of hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ to extract natural gas, according to the best-selling author of a book on the global oil and gas industry. Greg Palast, a renowned investigative journalist, said there was “no chance whatsoever” that US regulators would allow the controversial process in the kind of terrain for which it is proposed in Ireland.

“You may think American regulators are bad – and they are, they’re in the pockets of the oil industry – but even the worst of them would not allow fracking in areas like those proposed for Ireland,” he told Liberty. “If you took the counties where fracking is proposed in Ireland and stuck them down in the middle of the USA, there is no chance whatsoever that they would allow any drilling there.”

Fracking involves pumping tens of thousands of gallons of water, mixed with chemicals, at high pressure into shale rock in order to fracture the rock and release natural gas. The process has been banned in France and Bulgaria, as well as several states within the US, Germany, Canada and Australia.

Three companies have been given preliminary authorisations to explore for gas in parts of 12 Irish counties, including Cavan, Leitrim, Roscommon, Sligo, Fermanagh and Clare. One of the companies, the Australia-based Tamboran Resources, has said that fracking is the only way to extract this gas.

These areas have seen a growing campaign of opposition to fracking, due to major health and environmental risks, including possible contamination of water supplies. Five Irish local authorities have voted to ban fracking.

Palast was invited to Ireland by the No Fracking Ireland campaign and spoke to packed audiences in Enniskillen, Carrick-On-Shannon and Dublin. He says that when he visited some of the areas of Leitrim and Fermanagh for which fracking is proposed, he was shocked. “In the areas of the US where most fracking takes place, you can drive for days without seeing anyone. There are no people, there’s no water.”

“In areas such as Maryland and Pennsylvania, that are geologically and agriculturally like Ireland, they’ve pretty much stopped it,” he says. “In America you aren’t allowed to drill through aquifers [deposits of groundwater] to get to gas. In Ireland you’d have to drill through aquifers, because the whole country is on top of aquifers.”

In May, a preliminary study into fracking in Ireland by the University of Aberdeen for Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified potential risks to groundwater purity and tremors or earthquakes. Minister for Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, has said no fracking will take place here before a much more in-depth study is carried out.

Palast says the Aberdeen University study was misreported by the Irish media. “What the Aberdeen study said is that nobody has studied this: nobody knows about the geology, the water tables, nobody knows anything. You’re digging a hole and you’re wishing.”

Tamboran has said it will not use any chemicals during fracking in Ireland. However, campaigners argue the company has yet to show that it will be possible to frack without chemicals. Furthermore, as Palast warns: “Even if you don’t use chemicals, nature does. There are poisons that nature has locked away for many thousands of years and we’re unlocking it.”

Palast, who has been investigating pipeline explosions for more than 20 years, initially as a US government investigator, warns against “destroying Ireland’s tourism potential for a few quick bucks”.

His latest book, Vultures’ Picnic, explores how environmental disasters such as BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 are caused by corporate corruption and failed legislation. Following the Deepwater Horizon disaster, he discovered that an identical blow-out had occurred two years earlier on another BP rig in the Caspian Sea but was covered up by the company.

“If you trust oil companies, talk to the people of Louisiana about trusting BP,” he says.

This article was orginally published in the July 2012 issue of Liberty, the newspaper of the trade union SIPTU.

via Ireland totally unsuited to fracking – Greg Palast | Irish Oil and Gas.

via Ireland totally unsuited to fracking – Greg Palast | Irish Oil and Gas.

 

As Venezuela Prays for its Beloved Leader, Vultures Circle, Eager for Death and Profits


As Venezuela Prays for its Beloved Leader, Vultures Circle, Eager for Death and Profits

By  

Very few leaders, anywhere, have enjoyed the kind of love and popular support Hugo Chavez receives from the people of Venezuela.   Outside of George Washington and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, no American President has enjoyed the popularity of Hugo Chavez, who has won elections by margins American Presidents only dream of receiving.

Hugo Chavez and the people of Venezuela have a common enemy: vultures in the form of rich corporate opponents.   These vultures were there before Chavez took office.  The people can remember when the corporate thieves looted the country’s resources and robbed the people into poverty.   Now, these opponents are taking advantage of Chavez’s weakened condition following surgery and are spreading false rumors of death, eager to undo the people’s vote of 2012, a vote that clearly showed that the people of Venezuela want no part of the opposition’s form of government ever again.   With Chavez in the hospital, these vultures are trying to frighten the people and stress out the ailing leader in the hopes that he will die or that the false rumors will manifest in reality.   The opposition believes a new election will allow them to rip away the people’s property and resources for their own agenda.   It is hard enough to recover from surgery without the strain of knowing that people you love will suffer greatly if you don’t recover fast enough.   The opposition’s ruthless misconduct could actually be endangering Hugo Chavez’s very life.   Without conscience, the opposition awaits death as it plans the demise of the people’s government, their fortunes and their resources.

Who is Hugo Chavez, this great President who has won the hearts of the Venezuelan people, young and old?

In 1999, when Hugo Chavez took office, the country was suffering from extreme poverty.   Infant mortality was high.   The bulk of the people were poverty stricken and had very little.   Now, the Gross National Product has increased by about 250%. Chavez has cut the poverty rate by over 60%.   The infant mortality rate has been almost cut in half.

Much of the reason for the pre-Chavez poverty was that rich oil giants were savaging the resources and giving nothing back to the people.   Chavez ended the looting and gave the people a percentage of the profits obtained from the people’s own resources.   International corporations had acquired unused property that was sitting vacant while people went homeless.   (Sound familiar?)   Chavez gave the unused business property back to the people.   He assisted the people in cultivating their own resourses, growing their own food and in getting the medical attention they needed.   He opened up medical centers for the people to be treated, raising the longevity of the people of Venezuela.   While longevity is leveling off in the United States, it has dramatically increased since Hugo Chavez took office.

Chavez has treated the people like his brothers and sisters, celebrating with them at all possible opportunities, reading to their children, and making the interests of the people the key factor in setting government policies.   Their suffering has been his suffering and their joys, his joys.

Americans looking at the Chavez government wonder where we went wrong and why our leaders don’t listen to us the way Chavez listens to his people.   As Chavez lies in his hospital bed recovering from cancer surgery, the people of his country pray for him as they would for a father or a brother or sister.

It hasn’t been an easy road for Hugo Chavez and his people in a world where corporate interests are treated as paramount to those of the people.   Greedy oil executives, opposing Chavez’s reforms, had their chauffeurs drive them to formal protests as citizens watched stunned at the ridiculous site of rich men marching around with signs disparaging the poor and downtrodden.

Despite interference from the World Trade Organization (responsible for destroying the standard of living in countries around the world that have been affiliated with that organization), Chavez stood up against free trade and against the WTO.   He put his people first, ahead of corporations and ahead of greed.   He received death threats.   There were frequent attempts on his life orchestrated by foreign powers.

In 2002, Hugo Chavez was kidnapped by powerful foreign interests (as in people associated with George W. Bush).   One of those connected to the kidnapping was Henrique Capriles, the man who was soundly defeated by the people of Venezuela in the 2012 re-election of Hugo Chavez.   Hugo Chavez was taken to an island and only released after the people took to the streets and refused to settle for anything less than the return of their beloved leader.

Greg Palast has said, “Fear of Chavez is Fear of Democracy.”   He is correct.   In that article, he compared Hugo Chavez to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.     FDR is the leader attributed with pulling America out of the great depression.   We currently have no leader who is willing to do what it takes to pull America out of its current depression.   But Hugo Chavez has been there for the American people when George W. Bush and Barack Obama have fallen short and let the people down.    When Hurricane Katrina hit, George W. Bush was AWOL (just like in the Alabama National Guard).   But Hugo Chavez decided to fill in for Bush and was the first world leader to offer aid to the people of New Orleans.   In recent winters, Barack Obama has been content to let the people in the colder regions of the United States freeze to death.   Hugo Chavez doesn’t want Americans to die from neglect and has provided heating oil to Americans to assist with the cold winters.

Hugo Chavez has been a guiding light for the world, showing us that there can be leaders who put people first.   He has shown the world that the people are more important than corporate greed.   He has shown that the government should serve the people and not vice versa.

When Fukushima showed the dangers of nuclear power and America’s EPA hid the truth about the extensive fallout in the United States, it was Hugo Chavez who cared enough about the safety of his own people to tell them the truth and to freeze all nuclear projects in Venezuela.   In contrast, our own President Barack Obama pushed for the building of new Fukushima-style reactors in the United States and temporarily fled our country with his family for South America when Fukushima’s plume first hit the United States.    Is it any wonder that Hugo Chavez has a much higher popularity rating in his country than Barack Obama has in ours?

While criticizing the inaccurate election process in the United States, Jimmy Carter praised the election process in Venezuela.

“As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world,” Mr. Carter said, noting the Carter Center’s extensive work monitoring elections around the globe.

So while the people of Venezuela pray for the recovery of their friend, their brother, their example and their leader, the hateful forces of the opposition are intentionally and maliciously spreading false rumors and endangering Chavez’s life by pressuring him to return for a symbolic inauguration before he can fully recover.  If the stress or pressure of any of this causes any further complications to the health of Venezuela’s beloved leader, the opposition, including Henrique Capriles, Julio Borges and Tomas Guanipa, can expect to be held accountable in the eyes of the People of Venezuela and the world.

Venezuela’s People’s National Assembly has united behind Hugo Chavez in selecting his friend and ally Diosdado Cabello as its Assembly leader.   Cabello and Vice President Nicolas Maduro (Chavez’s choice for his successor) are working together to maintain Chavez’s government and his reforms until he can rejoin his revolution.

Under the Venezuelan Constitution, as shown and read by Vice President Maduro, the Venezuelan Supreme Court can swear in President Chavez at a later date and a different location than where and when they had intended the Inauguration.   This flexibility will likely remove some of the pressure interfering with his recovery.   Stress is never good when a person is fighting not just for his health but for the protection of his people.

On Thursday, January 10th, 2013, the People of Venezuela will be rallying in support of President Chavez, sending him a clear message that they are with him, eagerly awaiting his return.   People around the world will be joining them in spirit and prayer.     The world needs more heroes and it can’t afford to lose the few leaders who actually care.   Viva Chavez.

The author is the chairman of a liberal Democratic organization that is working to move the country towards its true base, the people. She has organized major human rights events and worked with some of the most liberal leaders in America. Her career has included work as a criminal defense attorney, a licensed private investigator, an educator and a writer.

eader, Vultures Circle, Eager for Death and Profits.

via OpEdNews – Article: As Venezuela Prays for its Beloved Leader, Vultures Circle, Eager for Death and Profits.

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