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By Andy Bichlbaum on Dec 11 2018 - 8:10pm Tagged:

Dear Friend,

Remember when we told you we were cooking up a surprise—something that would put a smile on your face and a big ugly orange grimace on someone else's? Well, our world-jiggling plan's nearly here!

Like thousands of you, we worked hard around the midterm elections. The House and many state-level offices will now be in the hands of Democrats. That makes our big little project even more potent, and we can't wait to unveil it. But we need just a little more moolah to finish this job.

Thanks to your already incredible generosity, the project is nearing the finish line. All we need now is to cover a few remaining project costs, and to pay everyone a token amount for the months of work it's entailed, keeping everyone's spirits up so we can make the best project we possibly can.

Luckily, it's ho-ho-ho season, so any contribution (and the rewards that come with it) can make a nice gift, personally dedicated and emailed to the feisty young niece, worried grandma, or politically bewildered brother of your choice. (The project itself, and therefore the rewards, will be ready early in the New Year.)

Can you kick in $20, $35, $50 or more to kick off the new Congress in style, and help put our country on track to a better future?

Here's wishing us all a happy holiday season and—especially—many happy returns!

Love,
The Yes Men and friends

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Sep 2 2018 - 3:20pm Tagged:

Dear Friend,

We have great news: As of Friday, we have an official partnership with a huge progressive organization with millions of members, who will help get our secret project to a giant swath of Americans. We can now think really big! And to pull this off at the change-making scale that's now, thanks to our new partnership, possible, we're upping our campaign goal to $60,000. (Our partner org is, rightly, using their finances for the midterm elections.)

Your incredible enthusiasm—in its very first day, our campaign exceeded all expectations, and in only five days we reached our four-week goal—shows how badly we're all craving something to keep the 2018 midterms momentum going, and not only help rid the land of the orange menace, but steer us to a future (almost) everyone can get excited about.

We can't tell you how grateful we are for your incredible support. We're exploring all fundraising avenues for this expanded project (please email us if you have any ideas!), but we also need you, our community, now more than ever. Please donate if you're able, if you haven't already—it's tax-deductible, and for donations of $60 or more we'll send you a lovely souvenir.

And even if you can't, please take two minutes to spread our campaign by sharing the post at the top of our Facebook page, or retweeting our twitter post, or adapting the below text for your social media poison of choice:

I'm helping the Yes Men's new (secret!) project to make a great post-Trump world! Join us at https://bit.ly/2ogTF5U #ByeBye45 #HelloBetterWorld #Resist @theyesmen

THANK YOU for everything you've already done. And finally: please, please, please get involved in a Midterm election near you. Sure, elections are only the start of taking our country back—but they're definitely an essential one.

Love,
The Yes Men and friends

P.S. We want more than your money—we want YOU… to help when this action rolls out. If you haven’t already, please visit your profile by entering your email on our front page, lower left, and let us know (more or less) where you live!

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Aug 28 2018 - 7:32am Tagged:

Dear Friend,

We have a big crazy plan, a secret surprise—and it needs your help. We can’t say much more, but here’s what we can say:

  1. It'll build on the 2018 midterm elections, and will be a kick in the pants—to a future we can all be excited about.
  2. It'll put a smile on your face, and an ugly orange grimace on someone else’s.
  3. No one has tried anything like this, at least not since that calamitous 2016 election. It's simple, it's bold, and... oops! we've said too much already!

We've got great support and collaboration already—but we need a bit more of both. Can you pitch in a few bucks (tax-deductible!), and be part of our most important action ever?

If you join our GoFundMe here, you’ll be the first to hear about this when it happens. Any amount is useful, but for donations of $60 or more, we'll also send you a lovely souvenir of the time we helped save our country together, which you can mount on your mantel and show your great-grandkids.

If you need to know more… well, sorry, we just can’t tell you! But if you join our most important action to date, you'll be the first to find out.

Love,
The Yes Men and friends

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Feb 26 2018 - 10:06pm Tagged: Project: NRA Shares the Safety

#WECALLBS ON THE NRA'S VERY EXISTENCE
New Yes Men film highlights fundamental racism of modern gun lobby

Available formats: YouTube, Facebook

(Feb. 28, 2018) In the wake of the Parkland shooting and the inspiring activism of teen survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the National Rifle Association and its Republican partners are facing intense scrutiny for their critical role in the rise of mass shootings and of homicides overall in America.

The NRA’s unhinged rhetoric and utter lack of remorse have been on full display since the horrific gun massacre at Stoneman Douglas two weeks ago. Spokesperson Dana Loesch (notorious for her recent ads that seem to be mustering NRA supporters into a pro-Trump paramilitary) even seemed to blame the media for the shootings, while NRA President Wayne LaPierre spewed more of his usual "arm the teachers" lunacy (promptly parroted by the current occupant of the Oval Office).

A short Yes Men film, completed in August 2017 and launched today on YouTube, uses shock humor to remind us where the NRA's lunacy and ugliness come from: FEAR—specifically, the profoundly terrified racism of the '70s. Featuring a Yes Men hoax performed June 22, 2016 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the film tells:

  • how Republicans—in a terrified reaction to the Black Panthers' performative activism—once promoted the first gun-control legislation;
  • how, once the Black Power movement was crushed, Republicans began calling for looser gun-control legislation, presumably for (white) "defense";
  • how the NRA, once a moderate organization, became a tool of racist Republican fear when it was hijacked by extremists including LaPierre, its current president; and
  • how fear of a Black uprising partly morphed into the right-wing street's signature terror of "government" (which in its best form, after all, is just another word for "people power").

The film communicates how the NRA and the Republican Party, tapping into deep racist fear for their power and profit, have turned America into the most violent high-income country in the world by a truly immense margin, both overall and specifically. (We have 7 times the homicide rate, and 25 times the rate of gun deaths, of the average high-income country—mainly thanks to Republicans and the NRA.)

The film also features a comical encounter with the NRA's Dana "Paramilitary" Loesch and her sinister, truth-indifferent "debate" techniques that so spectacularly failed at CNN’s Town Hall last week when she tried to use them against Parkland school shooting survivor Emma González.

With this film, the Yes Men wish to join the students of Stoneman Douglas (and many others before them) in calling B.S. on the NRA’s very existence. Please support them, and the nationwide #NeverAgain movement:

 

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Feb 2 2018 - 3:52pm Tagged: Project: Somos El Muro (We Are the Wall)

#SOMOSELMURO: SATIRE DENOUNCES PREJUDICE AND VIOLENCE TOWARD MIGRANTS IN MEXICO

#SomosElMuro is a satire created by a group of artists and activists from Mexico, Central America and the United States to make visible the xenophobia and discrimination faced daily by Central American migrants and refugees in Mexico. Launched in January 2018, #Somoselmuro presents a group of ultra-right, pro-Trump’s wall Mexicans who propose to turn Mexico into a giant human border. The video and the song ask, “What part of the wall are you?” and remind you that “By doing nothing, you’re also part of the wall.

The thousands of migrants who cross or seek refuge in Mexico each year are not criminals. On the contrary, they flee from conditions of extreme violence and poverty that have been systematized by to corrupt governments and neoliberal policies, which in turn feed the power and reach of organized crime.

They flee from one nightmare and encounter another. Instead of finding free transit and humanity, they are faced with rape, extortion, robbery, kidnapping, assault and demonization by local authorities, the National Institute of Migration, the police and military, as well as drug cartels specialized in human trafficking. It is extremely alarming that 80% of women who cross into Mexico are raped and thousands of migrant girls and boys are detained by the authorities despite the laws prohibiting it.

To denounce the system that dehumanizes migrants in Mexico, which profits from its mobility condition and uses euphemisms to obfuscate the violence inflicted, this group of artists and activists also created the satirical project “Migratón“: a Telethon for the migratory industry that launched on December 18, International Migrants Day. The Migratón website is a minefield of information, with links to reports on human rights abuses, articles on the root causes of Central American migration, and news that highlight the violence and exploitation they suffer in Mexico.

Violence’s best ally is ignorance. A large percentage of the population is not aware of the conditions migrants face in Mexico, and another large percentage does not want to be. Ignoring something does not make it disappear. Our silence another brick in the wall.

Many people on social networks—believing that these satirical projects are real—have been outraged and raised their voices in defense of the migrants. Thank you for criticizing, contributing, and speaking out.

We invite you to join the dialogue, get informed and take action.

Contribute to the Movimiento Migrante Mesoamericano and the Caravana de Madres
Ask the government to stop deporting refugees
Collaborate with the Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías
Support the Casa del Migrante Saltillo
Volunteer with FM4PASO Libre
Join forces with La 72 en Tenosique
Volunteer with Sin Fronteras
Foster the work of the Red de Casas Scalabrinianas
Collaborate with the Albergue de Migrantes Hermanos en el Camino

Check out the interview (in Spanish) with “Gloria Vallarta de Valle de Bravo” from #SomosElMuro (Ana Francis Mor from Las Reinas Chulas) in EL ALMOHADAZO, aired on February 12, 2018:

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Oct 4 2017 - 5:29pm Tagged: Project: RefuGreenErgy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 5, 2017

Bicycle Hoax Highlights Soulless Cycle
Belgian collective, in cahoots with refugee groups and the Yes Lab, hits hard at European policy towards refugees, false market solutions, assholes

Reveal video here (with English subtitles)
Photos and posters here
Hoax website, promotional video, Facebook, Twitter
Contact: Hélène Collin or Alexandre Dewez, contact@refugreenergy.org

Hundreds of spectators witnessed a bizarre spectacle Saturday, when a slick new tech startup called RefuGreenErgy held a three-hour launch event in central Brussels. The event featured four "RefuGreens" (actual refugees) happily pedaling battery-filling bikes while "company representatives" (actually activists) described to tourists and others how the refugees were producing "green" electricity they could buy; the refugees, in exchange, would get 24-hour periods of amnesty and 1.60 euros per day. "It's a guilt-free way to help others," explained one representative.

Reactions ranged from quiet approval to horror. The hoax was finally exposed when, after two "company officials" explained the concept to an assembled crowd, a member of the public, a man who works with refugees, spoke up emotionally against the concept, and the "officials" admitted it was a hoax. (See footage here.) At that point, Saïd Elouizi, a member of Brussels collective Voix des Sans-Papiers (Voice of the Undocumented), spoke of the importance of taking action as citizens: "We need to react to every speech and act, and not remain passive consumers.... Solidarity is our power."

The hoax, by WAAR (We Are All Refugees, a group of "artivists" from Belgium and abroad, working in cahoots with refugee groups and the Yes Men) was carried out in the capital city of Europe in part because refugees are constantly threatened, deported, and locked up by many European states, including Belgium. One Belgian politician, Theo Francken, has even brought agents from Sudan—whose president is under an international arrest warrant—to identify Sudanese refugees so that they can be deported back to the danger they fled.

The hoax was designed to call attention to the moral responsibility of countries like Belgium for the so-called "refugee crisis." 

“There are increasing numbers of climate refugees—perhaps 250 million by 2050," said WAAR member Zelda, referring to a United Nations report. "Climate change is caused by the industrial countries, and they bear responsibility for it."

"If we want to look at deeper causes of the wars and violence that force refugees to flee, it's not a big stretch to see our colonial history as a root cause," said WAAR member Hélène.

Another WAAR member noted that European colonial history continues as companies cause large-scale conflicts that force citizens to flee, as in the case of Areva in Mali.

"Our objective was to highlight the logic by which capitalism deals with and takes advantage of crises—even those that it's caused," the activist explained. "Faced with the ecological crisis of climate change, many companies respond with solutions that serve the objective of profit, without having any concrete effect on the problem itself. A horrible idea like RefuGreenErgy is sadly plausible, thanks to the 'Uberization' of society, ‘greenwashing,’ and the utopian view that the unregulated market can fix the world."

The hoax has so far received coverage in several Belgian media outlets. WAAR also launched a website, a promotional video, and Facebook and Twitter accounts. The hoax was developed during a week-long workshop with The Yes Lab at La Fabrique de Théâtre as part of the Brussels SIGNAL festival, and was carried out with the participation of refugee-activists from several organizations.

WAAR requests that you:

  • Support collectives and organizations that help the undocumented in their quest for work and legal status.
  • Support airplane passengers who oppose the deportation of refugees by air, who are now being prosecuted by the Belgian justice system.
  • If you are in Belgium, welcome a refugee from Maximilian Park (Brussels) into your home to allow him/her to rest, and to protect him/her from police raids.
  • Visit asylum seekers in Belgian refugee centers.

Media contacts: contact@refugreenergy.org
Hélène Collin, +32 474 99 31 33
Alexandre Dewez, +32 498 33 88 62

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Sep 22 2017 - 4:48pm Tagged:

Pioneer Works, Creative Time, and the Yes Men announce
WTF Do We Do Now?

A nine-hour open forum on some of today's most urgent political topics, with special guest speakers, to be held at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn
Sunday, October 15, 2017 |  10AM – 7PM | Free with registration


Brokers and police march for Occupy (NOT). Courtesy of the Yes Men

(New York, September 22, 2017) — Pioneer Works, Creative Time, and the Yes Men are proud to announce WTF Do We Do Now?, a one-day gathering with open forums, town hall meetings, and small-group dialogues. Guest speakers will include Frances Fox Piven, Avram Finkelstein, and Molly Crabapple; others will be confirmed shortly.

Back in 2007, after seven long years of Bush, RNC protests, the Patriot Act, and the so-called "War on Terror," a few hundred activists and artists gathered to ask: What Do We Do Now?

Ten years later, we pose a similar but even more urgent question. WTF Do We Do Now? will be a moment for activists and other politically-inclined creative people to reflect on a year of incredibly bad politics, and to gather energy, develop clarity, and make plans for the long fight ahead. We'll come out of the day with calls for action that make real sense in today's political landscape—one that's volatile and dangerous, but also full of unexpected opportunities for progressive change.

We welcome you to bring (or seek) clarity and strategy on the issues you care about, as well as new ways to take care of yourself and your friends. Admission is free with registration.

SPEAKERS AND SPECIAL GUESTS (more to be confirmed shortly)
Frances Fox Piven, Avram Finkelstein (Gran Fury), and Molly Crabapple. Participants will include Occupy Museums, BFAMFAPhD (Caroline Woolard, Emilio Martinez Poppe, Susan Jahoda, Vicky Virgin, Agnes Szanyi), the School of Apocalypse, and many more. Guest facilitation for the day by Andrew Freiband and the Artist Working Group. 

EVENT DETAILS 
WTF Do We Do Now?
Sunday, October 15, 2017
10am - 7pm
Pioneer Works, 159 Pioneer Street
Admission is free with registration, here.

ABOUT PIONEER WORKS
Pioneer Works is a cultural center dedicated to experimentation, education and production across disciplines. Through a broad range of educational programs, performances, residencies and exhibitions, Pioneer Works transcends disciplinary boundaries to foster a community where alternative modes of thought are activated and supported. We strive to make culture accessible to all.

ABOUT CREATIVE TIME
Creative Time, the New York based public arts non-profit, is committed to working with artists on the dialogues, debates, and dreams of our time. Creative Time presents the most innovative art in the public realm, providing new platforms to amplify artists’ voices, including the Creative Time Summit, an international conference convening at the intersection of art and social justice.

Since 1974, Creative Time has produced over 350 groundbreaking public art projects that ignite the imagination, explore ideas that shape society, and engage millions of people around the globe. Since its inception, the non-profit organization has been at the forefront of socially engaged public art, seeking to convert the power of artists’ ideas into works that inspire and challenge the public. Creative Time projects stimulate dialogue on timely issues, and initiate a dynamic experience between artists, sites, and audiences.

ABOUT THE YES MEN
The Yes Men are "laughtivists" who try to raise the media profile of critical social and political struggles and to cheer on those doing the really hard work. They do not consider themselves artists, but rather people with a certain amount of creative talent who are repulsed by the way things are and want to change that. They're based in New York and have produced "site-specific" actions for many of the last decade's struggles here. 

PRESS CONTACTS
For Creative Time:

Marcella Zimmermann 
marcella@culturalcounsel.com

For Pioneer Works:
Becky Elmquist
becky@pioneerworks.org 

For the Yes Men:
Andy Bichlbaum
people@theyesmen.org

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Jul 31 2017 - 7:39pm Tagged: Project: DNC Takeback

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AUGUST 1, 2017

 

ACTIVISTS CALL DNC'S BLUFF WITH #DNCTAKEBACK

Fake news precursors the Yes Men, working with grassroots activists, create illusion that election-winning populist issues are part of DNC's "Better Deal" - because they should be.

Highlights video, announcement text at www.yeslab.org/DNCTakeBack

 

One week after Democrats in Congress announced “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future”—a new "populist" economic agenda that has been criticized as grossly insufficient—a "DNC representative" held a live-tweeted press conference in Pasadena before an audience of 100 to clarify some of the plan's "lesser-known populist features": Medicare for all (desired by a strong majority of voters overall, according to a number of polls, and even by 41% of Republicans), free college tuition (desired by 62% of all voters), stronger unions (by an ever growing majority), and public campaign financing and the elimination of corporate lobbying (large majorities of Americans feel corporations, the wealthy, and lobbyists have far too much influence in politics).

 

The bipartisan audience asked questions for 50 minutes. "Never once did anyone express doubt that these were the actual new positions of the Democratic Party—because why shouldn't they be?" said Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men, who posed as the DNC rep for the event. All the positions Bichlbaum described have been shown by polls to have widespread support across the political spectrum, and candidates espousing them have been winning in state and local elections nationwide, even in heavily Trump-leaning areas.

 

"But the Democrats have a donor problem that they need to get over before they can adopt these positions and thus win elections reliably as they once did," added Katherine Brezler, National Digital Director and Co-Founder of PeopleForBernie.com, who collaborated with the Yes Men on the project.

 

Although videos of the event had garnered hundreds of thousands of views on Facebook and Twitter, and although the #DNCTakeBack discussion remained vibrant on Twitter, there was no reaction at all from the DNC by Monday morning. Therefore, the Yes Men decided to send out an "official" DNC press release with more details on the "Better Deal's" supposed positions.

 

"We feel bad for the thousands of people who've believed that the DNC was taking the Democrats in an election-winning direction," said Jennifer Prediger, the journalist who moderated Saturday's session. "But the illusion that this was real was a shallow one: it actually could be. The Democrats were once the party of the people, and they can be again, but only if people exert enough pressure."

 

"We hope that the DNC will do this, but we know the grassroots already are," said Brezler.

 

"If the DNC by any chance doesn't do the right thing then we need to redefine #DNCTakeBack," said Prediger. "We the people need to 'take back' the Democratic party, so that we all stand a chance against fascism in the US."

 

This is the first hoax by the Yes Men that delves into electoral politics, as well as the first one that targets those on the same side of the political divide. "We can blame the Trump win on all sorts of things, including the Russians and racism and so on," said Bichlbaum, "but the Democrats definitely failed to offer disaffected voters any alternative. Instead of fighting for the working people as they used to, they’ve championed the neoliberal policies that left so many of those people in the dust. The chickens have come home to roost."

 

This was also the first-ever fully livestreamed Yes Men event that can be viewed in its entirety. The event lasted one hour, with 50 minutes of questions asked by the public—including at least one Republican. "Strangely, there was no notable tension at any point, with any of the questioners, except when I admitted I knew very little about SB562, the California health care bill," said Bichlbaum. "That was quite stupid of me."

 

"Everything in this was very heartfelt," said Bichlbaum. "It was a fiction, but like many people, we deeply want the DNC to actually adopt these positions. Many people see the writing on the wall, and there are many different ways of spreading the message."

 

Read the text of the announcement here, and view video and photos here. And contribute to the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #DNCTakeBack.

 

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By Andy Bichlbaum on May 3 2017 - 12:49pm Tagged:

Peng Collective hoaxes the world to stop global arms trade

 

[Note: This press release was authored by Peng. Fake CDU site here. See this article, in German, for coverage, the fake CDU web page, screenshots of Fox and other outlets that were fooled by the hoax, etc.]

 

Yesterday the Berlin based Peng! collective together with Theater Dortmund has created a hoax: a campaign of Merkels CDU party, that addresses the party's position on gun export laws and its contradiction to the christian values that the CDU stands for. The fake politician in the video called out the chancellor to work towards ending exports of guns.

 

In practice, Germany is among the five most active weapon exporting countries and thus shares responsibility in fueling conflicts over the world.

 

The hoax was picked up by media worldwide including New York Times, Fox News, Daily Mail and, most importantly, Radio Vatican. The collective revealed the hoax on the same day and made a stand against rising small arms exports in Germany.

 

The hoax sparked an intense debate about the difference between fake news and satire in the German media. "Fake news usually aims to confuse and manipulate the audience, while our work aims to educate the audience and stimulate a critical debate pointing out the social injustice and the double standards of politics." Jessica Gräber from Peng! says, "Revealing the fake, enhancing reflection and taking position on the topic is a crucial part of our work. Furthermore, Fake News are usually spread in order to maintain and increase political power, whereas satire and hacked news aim to question and criticize the dominating power relationships."

 

For more information on Peng collective visit www.pen.gg and to find out more about recent campaigns visit

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/09/30/these-germanartists-

tried-to-convince-nsa-employees-to-quit/

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/social-media/11535405/How-do-you-stop-

Twitter-trolls-Unleash-a-robot-swarm-to-troll-them-back.html

 

https://www.fastcompany.com/3030418/how-activists-fooled-the-internet-with-theseconvincing-

new-google-nest-products

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/14/shell-berlin-science-slamvideo_

n_4440676.html

 

Jessica Gräber

+491773237192

presse@pen.gg

 

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By keil on Apr 25 2016 - 5:37pm Tagged: Project: UN Ends the War on Drugs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

 

UN Not Recognizing 4/20, Not Ending Drug Violence, Not Standing Up To Drug-Addled National Bullies, and Not Urging Stoners To Grow Pot At Home

 

Hoax highlights UN paralysis on drug policy at April 19-21 UNGASS

 

Last week, during the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem—whose dates strangely centered on April 20, or 4/20—the Los Angeles Times quoted a press release announcing an ambitious new UN plan to decriminalize drugs and make them a health care rather than criminal justice issue.

This was welcome news for most of the world’s countries, who support making such a shift, but sadly the press release and associated Twitter account were a hoax, as discovered by journalist Tom Angell from Marijuana.com.

Shortly after Angell's revelation, a supposed UN denunciation of the hoax explained that “deadbeat states” like the USA, Russia, and China had prevented the UN from meeting the needs of poorer states like Mexico and Colombia who continue to be ravaged by the drug war. That release, also a hoax, quoted a UN spokesperson suggesting that citizens of the USA, Russia, and China should grow their own as the only way to wash their hands of bloody drug violence. (See coverage in The Guardian and CNN.)

 

Both press releases were in fact home-grown by Potanist, an online community for cannabis enthusiasts, who teamed up with notorious tricksters the Yes Men to get their message out.

“In the US, cannabis prohibition disproportionately impacts low-income communities of color and those on the fringes,” said Potanist’s Matt Heffler. “In Latin America, it provides drug cartels with practically infinite funding. Everyone suffers—except the US private prison industry and the cartels."

"The UN could really make a difference here, and it's very sad that they've caved in to bullying," Heffler added. Countries like Mexico and Colombia, crippled by rampant violence over drugs bound for the USA and Europe, have been demanding an end to the failed war on drugs for years, and many had hoped that this UNGASS would be a step to that change.

“In the US we tend to think of medical access to drugs as the main reason to legalize cannabis," said Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men. "But ending the cycle of violence fuelled by the drug war is orders of magnitude more important. Unless there's policy change, US citizens can't buy drugs without fearing their purchase is contributing to somebody's death. That can really harsh your buzz."

“Working with Potanist on this opened my eyes,” said Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men. “If you hate the violence but still want the drugs, you have to work on legalizing it. And until you succeed, you should at a minimum consider growing your own weed. It’s like giving up factory-farmed meat if you care about climate change. Sadly, without systemic change these half-baked answers are the only ethical options we’ve got.”

 

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