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Conspiracy You Can Believe In

Conspiracy You Can Believe In

By Patrick Winegar
A podcast about conspiracies, plots, and unusual crimes that might have actually happened.
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Episode 18 - Maintain Your Rage
On November 11, 1975, Gough Whitlam was removed from office as Prime Minister of Australia. He was dismissed by his own Governor-General, John Kerr, a man who held what was largely believed to be a ceremonial position as the representative of the British Crown. The Dismissal would spark decades of debate in Australia. But recently unearthed records show that Kerr did not act on his own. He had the full support of the country's conservative establishment, encouragement from US and Australian intelligence, and advice from Buckingham Palace. SOURCES The Palace Letters: The Queen, the governor-general, and the plot to dismiss Gough Whitlam by Jenny Hocking The Dismissal: 40 years on by Paul Daley The Dismissal - 10th Anniversary by Australia Channel 9 The Kerr Palace Letters - National Archives of Australia In the 1970s, a Soft Coup Removed Australia’s Left-Wing Prime Minister by Guy Rundle Gough Whitlam’s Government Was the Victim of a Right-Wing Coup by Conor Flynn Rundle: proving the CIA-backed conspiracy that brought down Whitlam by Guy Rundle CIA, Kerr, Barwick and 1975 by Humphrey McQueen Australian House of Representatives Debates - 4 May 1977 CIA Issue Enters Australian Crisis by Fox Butterfield special to the New York Times How Australia Won Universal Healthcare - and How Workers Saved it with a General Strike by Anthony O'Donnell
May 19, 2022
Bonus Episode: The Spanish Civil War
During this bonus episode, we'll give a condensed history of the Spanish Civil War: the major players, what caused the conflict, the course of the war, and the consequences of Franco's victory. SOURCES Spain in our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 by Adam Hochschild The Spanish Civil War by Hugh Thomas The Spanish Republic and the Civil War 1931-39 by Gabriel Jackson
April 22, 2022
Episode 17 - Franco, the Nazis, and Texaco
Spain, 1936: After the the left-wing Popular Front coalition achieved victory at the polls, a confederacy of right-wing generals plotted to defeat it on the battlefield. Francisco Franco and his fascist allies in Italy and Nazi Germany would eventually defeat the democratically elected government of Spain. But they did it with plenty of support from an American oil company--Texaco. SOURCES Spain in our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 by Adam Hochschild The Spanish Civil War by Hugh Thomas The Spanish Republic and the Civil War 1931-39 by Gabriel Jackson Oil: Exit Rieber, Time Magazine,9171,764502,00.html
March 21, 2022
Episode 16 - Karen Silkwood
On November 13, 1974, a nuclear lab technician named Karen Silkwood was reported dead in a single-car accident just outside Oklahoma City. Silkwood was on her way to meet a reporter from the New York Times to deliver evidence that her employer, Kerr-McGee, was hiding records of defective nuclear fuel rods. This evidence has never been found. Shortly after the crash, Karen's friends and co-workers began to question the official record of her car accident. Further investigation would reveal that her death might not have been an accident after all. SOURCES: The Killing of Karen Silkwood: The Story Behind the Kerr-McGee Plutonium Case by Richard Rashke Karen Silkwood: The Case of the Activist's Death by Howard Kohn Karen Silkwood Remembered 1946--1974 by Tony Mazzocchi, BMWE Journal, November/December 1999 Paper in Nashville Dismisses Writer Linked to the F.B.I. by David Burnham, New York Times
February 24, 2022
Bonus Episode: Alabama's Populist Revolt
In the 1890s, the two-party system in Alabama nearly cracked open. A brutal economic depression and a rising wave of labor agitation and agrarian unrest helped create a viable new party: The People's Party. Learn how the Populists nearly took power in Alabama, why they failed, and what their legacy means for the modern South. To support the striking UMWA miners of Warrior Met Coal, visit SOURCES: Populism to Progressivism by Sheldon Hackney,4881.aspx?skuid=2200 Birmingham Coal District Strike of 1908 by Encyclopedia of Alabama Arsenal for Democracy - American Money: Part IV The Cross of Gold Subtreasury Plan by James L. Hunt, NCpedia Ambushed in Eufaula: Alabama's forgotten race massacre by Kyle Whitmire
January 25, 2022
Episode 15 - The 1901 Alabama Constitution
In 1901, 155 delegates gathered in Montgomery, Alabama to create the dumbest constitution in American history, then ratify it through a sham election. This is the story of Alabama's state constitution, still in use to this day. SOURCES: Alabama's Shame: The Historical Origins of the 1901 Constitution by Wayne Flynt Populism to Progressivism by Sheldon Hackney,4881.aspx?skuid=2200 Reconstruction Constitutions - Encyclopedia of Alabama The less you make, the more you pay: Alabama’s taxes remain upside down by Chris Sanders of Alabama Arise
January 10, 2022
Episode 14: Fair Harvard
Harvard is the oldest university in the United States--with the largest endowment fund in the world. With an investment portfolio of over $40 billion, Harvard is no stranger to financial scandals in its recent past. SOURCES: Right on the Money: The George Bush Profile by Charles Lewis Bush, Harken, and the Public's Right to Know by the Center for Public Integrity A Brief History of Bush, Harken, and the SEC by John Dunbar Harken's Ivy League Underwriter by John Dunbar Bush Cautioned on Harken Sale by Peter Behr Bush Baggage in His Business Past? by Chris Bury Securities and Exchange Commission Documents by Center for Public Integrity How Harvard Lost Russia by David McClintick The Tragedy of Russia's Reforms by Peter Reddaway and Dmitri Glinski The Harvard Boys Do Russia by Janine R. Wedel IKEA's Forest Recall by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project ‘Timber Mafia’ threatens the future of Romania’s ancient forests by Glenn Ellis Investigation: Thousands of trees illegally felled to build IKEA’s flat pack empire by Alex Thomson
October 15, 2021
Bonus Episode: Haiti After the Coup
In the years following President Jean-Bertrande Aristide's second removal from power in 2004, everyday Haitians experienced a brutal military occupation, two devastating earthquakes, and a degradation of the democratic society they tried to build through the Lavalas movement.  SOURCES: Damming the Flood: Haiti and the Politics of Containment by Peter Hallward A Glittering Industrial Park in Haiti Falls Short by Jonathan M. Katz Haitian Leader's Power Grows as Scandals Swirl by Frances Robles Clinton's Long Shadow by Nikolas Barry-Shaw Haiti's Eroding Democracy by Jake Johnston Haiti's Permanent Resistance by Kim Ives Were Haiti's Capitalists Behind the Assassination of President Moise? by Kim Ives Haiti's Fatally Flawed Election by CEPR Clinton Emails Reveal "Behind the Doors Actions" of Private Sector and US Embassy in Haiti Elections by Jake Johnston Aristide Returning to Haiti Despite Delay Sought by Obama - NBC News In Haiti, a Factory Where Big Money, State Department and Clintons Meet
September 16, 2021
Episode 13: Two Coups in Haiti
Jean-Bertrand Aristide was the most popular politician in Haiti. He helped lead a grassroots movement against far-right dictatorship and military rule in his country, and earned the support of millions of voters. So why was he forced out of office--twice? SOURCES  The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution by CLR James Damming the Flood: Haiti and the Politics of Containment by Peter Hallward Inter-American Commission on Human Rights-OAS--The Attack on St. Jean Bosco Church Our Man in FRAPH - Behind Haiti's Paramilitaries by Allan Nairn
August 20, 2021
Bonus Episode: This Episode Is Not About Russiagate
How do the experiences of average Russians during the tumultuous 1990s explain the way the country is today? And what does the popular narrative in the U.S. about Vladimir Putin get right--and wrong? SOURCES: Russia Without Putin by Tony Wood The Tragedy of Russia's Reforms: Market Bolshevism Against Democracy by Peter Reddaway and Dmitri Glinski Russia Responds to Anti-Migrant Riots by Arresting Migrants by Simon Shuster
July 14, 2021
Episode 12: The 1996 Russian Election
In 1996, it was hard to believe that Boris Yeltsin had ever been a popular leader. Years of economic devastation, corruption, and war tarnished the image of Russia's first president, leaving him with an approval rating in the single digits, and little chance of winning re-election. Miraculously, Yeltsin would go on to win a second term that year--with a little help from the U.S. government and the International Monetary Fund. SOURCES:  The Tragedy of Russia's Reforms: Market Bolshevism Against Democracy by Peter Reddaway and Dmitri Glinski Russia Without Putin by Tony Wood Clinton Digital Library: Declassified Documents Concerning Russian President Boris Yeltsin PRESS SOURCES Election meddling in Russia: When Boris Yeltsin asked Bill Clinton for help by David Shimer The Harvard Boys Do Russia by Janine R. Wedel  Bearing Gifts, Yeltsin Gains Ground by Lee Hockstader IMF Approves $10.2 Billion Loan For Russia by Michael Dobbs Yeltsin drunk, near-naked, outside White House --AFP wire story Rewriting Russian History: Did Boris Yeltsin Steal the 1996 Presidential Election? by Simon Shuster,8599,2107565,00.html
June 28, 2021
Bonus Episode: Truth and Reconciliation
During South Africa's transition to democracy in the 1990s, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was tasked with holding public hearings on crimes against humanity committed during the turbulent years of Apartheid. Here, we cover only a few of the atrocities carried out by the Apartheid regime in South Africa. SOURCES: TRC Special Report broadcasts Project Coast: Apartheid’s Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme by United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research Quest to Solve Assassination Mystery Revives an AIDS Conspiracy Theory by Matt Apuzzo South Africa's Dr. Death by Benjamin Pogrund South Africa: ‘Dr Death’ discovered to still be practising medicine by Olivier Marbot
May 28, 2021
Episode 11 - The Mysterious Death of Dag Hammarskjöld
Shortly after midnight, on September 18, 1961, UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld died in a plane crash just outside the Congo. Hammarskjöld was on his way to broker a peace settlement for the Congo Crisis, a conflict that pitted the UN against the proponents of white minority rule in central and southern Africa. It could have been what got him killed.  SOURCES: Who Killed Hammarskjöld? The UN, the Cold War and White Supremacy in Africa by Susan Williams Cold Case Hammarskjöld by Mads Brügger and Göran Björkdahl The Assassination of Lumumba by Ludo de Witte U.N. Report Bolsters Theory That Hammarskjold Plane Was Downed
May 07, 2021
Episode 10: The Assassination of Phil Donahue by the Coward Chris Matthews
When Phil Donahue was offered a prime-time slot on MSNBC in 2002, he was already a household name. The person who developed the format of the daytime talk show would now be the face of the network that was gearing up to be the biggest competitor to Fox News. But seven months later, his show was canceled. The official explanation given was poor ratings. But a series of insider memos and emails from the network revealed the real reason Phil Donahue was forced back into retirement: he was too critical of America's coming war with Iraq. SOURCES: Phil Donahue and the Art of Remembering by Maria Bustillos Chasing Fox by Gabriel Sherman Phil Donahue on MSNBC Firing by Jack Mirkinson and Marc Lamont Hill The Surrender of MSNBC by Rick Ellis (archived) Battling for the Soul of Donahue by Rick Ellis (archived) MSNBC Cancels Donahue by Bill Carter Phil Donahue on His Firing from MSNBC by Democracy Now Countdown to Big Ratings by Stephen Battaglio (archived) Phil Donahue and his Show by Dr. James Todd Uhlman Donahue cold open source:
February 25, 2021
Bonus Episode: The 54th Massachusetts
In 1863, a regiment of black soldiers steamed out of Boston Harbor for the front in South Carolina. The 54th Massachusetts would distinguish themselves at multiple battles--including the bloody assault of Fort Wagner--even though they didn't enjoy the full rights of citizenship or even full pay. Listen to the story of the brave troops who helped deliver the death blow to the Slave Power. SOURCES: A Brave Black Regiment by Luis F. Emilio Retouching History: The Modern Falsification of a Civil War Photograph by Jerome S. Handler and Michael L. Tuite, Jr. Black Confederates: Truth and Legend by Sam Smith The Old Flag Never Touched the Ground by Ronald S. Coddington Harriet Tubman's Great Raid by Paul Donnelly The Whole Land is Full of Blood: The Thomas Sims Case The Postal Record: Postal Pioneers
February 11, 2021
Episode 9: The Slave Power
One of the motivations behind the anti-slavery movement in the 1850s in the United States was the belief in the Slave Power conspiracy. Abolitionists and their allies argued that a confederation of powerful slaveholders secretly plotted to capture the federal government of the US and direct its might towards the preservation and extension of slavery. The abolitionists were wrong about one major thing: it wasn't that much of a secret. SOURCES Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War by Eric Foner Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy by Matthew Karp The Slave Power Conspiracy: 1830-1860 by Russel B. Nye The Appeal of the Independent Democrats Thomas Morris' speech in the Senate JQ Adams' Speech on the Slave Power George Fitzhugh's Horace Greely's Lost Book:;rgn=full+text;size=100;view=image Fitzhugh's Sociology For the South: James Henry Hammond's Mudsill Speech: John C. Calhoun's Slavery a Positive Good Speech
January 21, 2021
Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 339: The Future of Planned Obsolescence
I appeared on Arsenal For Democracy with Bill and Nate to talk more about Vance Packard's The Waste Makers, planned obsolescence, and recent victories at the polls for the right to repair the things you own. Listen to more episodes of Arsenal for Democracy here:
January 06, 2021
Episode 8: Planned Obsolescence
Do you ever wonder why you have to replace a perfectly good smartphone after a software update? Do things in your home seem to fall apart before their time? Was your grandpa right when he said "They just don't make 'em like the used to?" If you think that somewhere, someone is making some of the products you buy wear out on purpose, you're not crazy. They are. It's called planned obsolescence. SOURCES The Waste Makers by Vance Packard The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy by Markus Krajewski The Story Behind The Story Behind "The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy" by Jean Kumagai Farmers Fight John Deere Over Who Gets to Fix an $800,000 Tractor by Peter Waldman and Lydia Mulvany We Can't Let John Deere Destroy the Very Idea of Ownership by Kyle Wiens Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors With Ukrainian Firmware by Jason Koebler
December 23, 2020
Bonus Episode: The Young Patriots of Uptown Chicago
Uptown, Chicago in the 1960s was a neighborhood struggling with poverty. Thousands of poor white Southerners migrated to the community in the 50s and 60s in search of work, but were met with low-paying jobs, substandard housing, and brutality from the police of the Summerdale precinct. A group of young Southern migrants called the Young Patriots worked with the Black Panthers and others to organize the community around these issues, building a unique identity of left-wing hillbilly nationalism in Chicago. SOURCES: Melville House Books interview with Hy Thurman: Rising Up Angry (with links to back issues): Belt Magazine: The Young Patriots and the Fight for the Working Class in Uptown Chicago Magazine: Hank Williams Village: Chicago’s Best Urban Plan That Never Happened Chicago Magazine: Chicago’s Hillbilly Problem During the Great Migration Young Patriots Tour of Uptown in Chicago led by Hy Thurman
December 03, 2020
Episode 7: The Summerdale Scandal
For two years in the late 1950s, an almost nightly series of burglaries cleaned out homes and businesses across Chicago's North Side. The robbers cracked safes, stole jewelry, made off with store merchandise, and emptied houses of expensive furniture. But this wasn't the work of the city's crime syndicates or ordinary street gangs: the heists were all planned by a group of uniformed Chicago Police. SOURCES: To Serve and Collect: Chicago Politics and Police Corruption from the Lager Beer Riot to the Summerdale Scandal by Richard Lindberg Richard Lindberg's article on Summerdale: Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago by Mike Royko To support the Civilian Police Accountability Council:
November 19, 2020
Bonus Episode: Leopold & Patrice - Two Visions of the Congo
Leopold II's actions in the Congo left the country a ruin, with his soldiers and administrators committing some of the worst atrocities in human history. Patrice Lumumba attempted to forge a new, fully independent Congo after the Belgians left, a mission that ended in his own arrest and murder. How are these two men viewed by history today, and what does it mean for the Democratic Republic of the Congo? SOURCES: King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild: The Assassination of Lumumba by Ludo de Witte:
October 28, 2020
Episode 6: The Plot to Kill Patrice Lumumba
In June of 1960, Patrice Lumumba was the first democratically elected prime minister of the Congo. By September, he would be removed from power. By December, he would be a prisoner, and by January of 1961, he would be dead. Why was this popular fighter for Congolese independence assassinated, and who was behind it?  SOURCES: The Assassination of Lumumba by Ludo de Witte: King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild:
October 15, 2020
Bonus Episode: Russia's Time of Troubles
After the death of Ivan the Terrible, the Russian state was thrown into chaos by civil war, social collapse, and famine. In this episode, we explore what happened after the death of Tsar Dmitry in 1606, including the appearance of two more False Dmitrys and a national uprising to expel a Polish invasion. SOURCE: Russia's First Civil War: The Time of Troubles and the Founding of the Romanov Dynasty by Chester Dunning
September 24, 2020
Episode 5: False Dmitry, Tsar of Russia
Russia, 1591: Dmitry, the young son of the long-dead Tsar Ivan the Terrible was killed in a suspicious accident. Some suspected the regent, Boris Godunov, to be responsible for the boy's death. Just over a decade later, a man calling himself Dmitry would return, claiming he escaped the clutches of Boris, and would take back the throne of his father. This so-called Dmitry ruled as Tsar of Russia for only a year, and his true identity has never been established. Nearly everyone today agrees he was a pretender to the throne...but what if the False Dmitry was telling the truth about who he was? SOURCES: Russia's First Civil War: The Time of Troubles and the Founding of the Romanov Dynasty by Chester S. Dunning Sir Thomas Smythes Voiage and Entertainment in Rushia
September 03, 2020
Bonus Episode: Whatever Happened to the Whigs?
In the 1850s, the political party system of the United States was disrupted, and a new Republican Party was born in opposition to the Slave Power. But what existed just before that. What is a Whig, anyway? And why did they suddenly collapse? SOURCES: Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson: Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men by Eric Foner: The Strange Stillbirth of the Whig Party by Lynn L. Marshall: Who Were the Southern Whigs? by Charles Grier Sellers, Jr.: Why Abraham Lincoln Was a Whig by Daniel Walker Howe:;view=fulltext
August 21, 2020
Episode 4: The Lecompton Constitution and the Crime Against Kansas
In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act left the territory of Kansas open to the possibility of slavery. Pro- and anti-slavery settlers swarmed to Kansas, resulting in a low-intensity civil war that would drag on for years. Pro-slavery supporters were outnumbered in the territory, so they relied on help from Washington to rig elections, draft a phony constitution, and attempt to establish Kansas as a slave state, against the wishes of the majority. Today, we'll focus on the Lecompton Constitution: an instance of massive voter fraud and corruption that implicated state officials, U.S. Senators, and even the President himself. SOURCES: Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson: Kansas Historical Society:
August 06, 2020
Episode 3: Richard J. Daley and the 1919 Chicago Race Riot
When he was mayor of Chicago, Richard J. Daley was known as staunch supporter of law and order to put down civil unrest. But when he was 17 years old, many people his neighborhood participated in a brutal attack on Chicago's Black Belt, and nobody knows for sure if Daley took part. Today we'll take a closer look at a question that Chicagoans have asked for decades: did Mayor Daley take part in a race riot? Sources: Boss by Mike Royko: American Pharaoh by Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel WIlkerson: The Negro in Chicago: a Study of Race Relations and a Race Riot: Belt Magazine: Commemorating Chicago's Red Summer of 1919:
July 22, 2020
Bonus Episode: Fob James and Alabama Politics
For eight years, Alabama was ruled under the iron fist of a guy named Fob. Take a look into the life of one of the most colorful governors of Alabama: Republican-turned-Democrat-turned-Republican-again Fob James, and how his tenure reflects a watershed moment in Southern politics. SOURCES:
July 15, 2020
Episode 2: The Assassination of Olof Palme
On the night of February 28th, 1986, an assassin shot and killed Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme. The murder went unsolved for 34 years. Last month, Swedish police announced they believed the Prime Minister was the victim of a lone gunman, and officially closed the case. But is that the whole story? What can Olof Palme's battle against Apartheid in South Africa tell us about who had him killed? SOURCES: Blood On the Snow, by Jan Bondesson: Truth and Reconciliation Commission Special Report series, especially episode 1 and episode 28: Peter Caselton interview: NEWS SOURCES Eugene de Kock at Stockholm airport: Accusations from Coetzee & others: Coetzee obituary: de Kock trial: Sweden aid to ANC: Abramoff & Red Scorpion:
July 08, 2020
Episode 1: The 2002 Alabama Election
On Alabama's election night of 2002, it looked like Democratic governor Don Siegelman had won a second term by a razor-thin margin. Until he didn't. Thanks to a voting machine computer glitch in a single county, the election results were suddenly reversed. What really happened on the night of one of the most controversial elections in Alabama history? Patrick Winegar breaks down this conspiracy that might have actually happened.  SOURCES:  Dr. James Gundlach's paper:  Glynn Wilson's account of election night:  Encylopedia of Alabama:  Tuscaloosa News interview:  AP election report:  USA today election controversy report:  LA Times report on Bill Pryor ruling:
June 22, 2020