Blog

By mary on Mar 6 2013 - 1:51pm Tagged:

March 6, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

"ACTIPEDIA" CROWDSOURCING PLATFORM GOES PUBLIC
Database of creative activist case studies will inform and inspire a new generation of activists

The Yes Lab and the Center for Artistic Activism are announcing the launch of Actipedia.org, an open-access, user-generated database of creative activism case studies designed to inspire activists.

"We designed Actipedia to inspire activists to more creative—and effective—actions," explains Stephen Duncombe, co-founder of the Center for Creative Activism.

"Actipedia is about sharing the ways people challenge power and envision a better society," adds Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Lab. "To change the world we've got to learn from each other."

Actipedia is built on an open-source platform and is designed for ease of use, with simple formats for viewing, searching and posting examples. The site draws case studies from original submissions, reprinted news articles, and informal snippets of action reports. Although it is only now launching, Actipedia already hosts over 400 case studies and counting, from countries from all over the world.

"Actipedia provides a space for inspiration and for contribution," noted one recent user. "Seeing all the amazing work going on around the world motivates me and makes me realize the potential impact I can have."

Contact:
Stephen Duncombe
212-998-7327
srd@artisticactivism.org
http://actipedia.org

The Yes Lab helps activist groups carry out media-getting creative actions, focused on their own campaign goals. Through brainstorms and trainings, social justice organizations can take advantage of all that the Yes Men—Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno—have learned, not only about our their own ways of doing things, but those practices they’ve come in contact with over the decade and a half they've been engaging in creative activism and tactical media.

The Center for Artistic Activism is a place to explore, analyze, and strengthen connections between social activism and artistic practice. The Center was founded by Stephen Duncombe, longtime activist and professor at New York University and Steve Lambert, longtime artist and professor at SUNY Purchase. Since 2009, the center has has served as a site for artistic activist trainings, actions, research and resources. The Center seeks to foster more creative activists and more effective artists.

Actipedia can be found at http://actipedia.org/ or on twitter @Actipedia, and the collaborators are available for interviews upon request. 

Permalink 0 comments
By mary on Feb 28 2013 - 3:10pm Tagged: Europe, bank, investment, coal, fossil fuels Project: Bank’s Dodgy Climate Portfolio Revealed

February 28, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dreams of European Investment Bank Quitting Coal Go Up in Smoke – For Now
Climate activists take responsibility for fake press release, bizarre award ceremony

Brussels -- The European Investment Bank (EIB) president Werner Hoyer was forced to say this morning, during the EIB’s annual press conference, that an announcement that the bank would give up lending to coal was "pure nonsense". And this, despite the fact that Hoyer repeatedly referred to the EIB as a frontrunner in the fight against climate change. 
 
The contradictory statements from the EIB came as a result of a sophisticated activist campaign that culminated in a curious confrontation inside the European Council building this morning.
 
The ruse began yesterday afternoon, when a fake press release announced that the EIB was divesting from coal. Several news outlets picked it up as real, including Bloomberg, who quickly discovered their error, pulled the report, and posted a retraction
 
The EIB posted a denial on their website and threatened legal action, but that did not stop the  activists, who continued to hound them at their exclusive annual press conference this morning. 
 
After Hoyer presented the activities of the EIB during 2012, including the bank's efforts on climate change, he was approached by a self-identified "citizen of Europe", who offered him an elegant flower vase shaped like a smokestack. 
 
"I am very pleased to present this award to the European Investment Bank," said the citizen, "to honor your commitment to divest from Coal, and finally commit to real action on climate change." 
 
Despite hesitating for a second whether to get the "European citizen" kicked out, the EIB decided he posed no real threat and allowed him to continue staying in the room, while keeping the award on the stage for some time. 
 
Upon receiving the award, a confounded Hoyer said that "we have always been grateful for the ingenuity of our journalist partners" and quickly moved on to the next issue on the press conference agenda.
 
Yet the climate issue and energy lending by the EIB stayed on the media's mind, and numerous questions addressed in the Q&A section of the press conference pressed the EIB to explain more about the bank's efforts against climate change. Representatives of the bank mostly pointed to the upcoming review of the bank's energy policy (due in June); the EIB made it clear it was not ready to announce dropping coal from the bank's lending at the moment, and made it clear that gas will continue to be a central segment of EIB lending in the future. 
 
The "citizen of Europe" was really a representative of Counter Balance, a coalition of NGOs across Europe that monitor the EIB. The action was developed with the help of the Yes Lab. 
 
"We wanted to show to the bank how European citizens expect the EIB to behave," said Berber Verpoest of Counter Balance. 
 
The EIB is the house bank of the EU, mandated to further EU objectives including Europe's 2050 Energy Roadmap which calls for an 80-95 percent emissions reduction over the next four decades in Europe. The EIB's website claims the bank is "among the largest providers of finance for climate action in pursuit of the EU's goal of low-carbon and climate resilient growth." What is not mentioned, however, are the massive loans to coal-fired power plants and other dirty energy initiatives that the EIB has provided also over the last years. 
 
"The presentation of this award and the hoax press release from yesterday were meant to emphasise the deep contradiction at the heart of the EIB," explains Berber Verpoest from Counter Balance. "On the one hand, this is the bank of the EU with the goal to fight climate change; on the other hand, the EIB has been lending billions to coal, gas and other fossil fuels and until last year its dirty energy loans were equal to its support for clean energy. So with the hoax we wanted to make clear what we expect the future energy policy to look like."
 
The European Investment Bank is this year reviewing its energy lending policy, a revision which only happens once every 5-6 years. Considering that climate science makes it clear we cannot invest any more in fossil fuel infrastructure after 2017 if we want to contain global warming within 2 degrees Celsius, the current policy revision is the only chance this bank has to set its lending in line with the climate imperative. 
 
"The EIB has been working hard over the past years to clean up its lending," says Xavier Sol from Counter Balance. "We commend them for those efforts and we hope that they take this hoax for what it really is: not so much an attempt to make fun, but an alarm bell that time is running out and subsidies for fossil fuels must be ended today if we want to avoid catastrophe."
 
Key Figures:
  • EIB lones to coal 2007-2011: €2 billion
  • EIB loans to fossil fuels 2007-2011: €19 billion
  • EIB total energy loans 2007-2011: €62 billion

Coal plants financed by EIB since 2007:

  • Du-Walsum Coal Power Plant in Germany, 2007
  • PPC Environment in Greece, 2007
  • Enel Energia Rinnovable & Ambiente in Italy, 2007
  • TES - THERMAL Power Plant in Slovenia, 2007 and 2010
  • Power Plant Karlsruhe in Germany, 2008
  • Fortum CHP and E-Metering in Poland, 2009
  • SE Power Plant and Forest Industry R&D in Poland, 2010
  • South Poland CHP in Poland, 2011
  • Paroseni Power Plant in Romania, 2011

For more info, see the EIB's project database and Bankwatch's studies and analysis.

Permalink 0 comments
By mary on Nov 16 2012 - 12:00am Tagged: Middlebury, college, fossil fuels, divestment, climate change

Press Release Authors Come Clean:
A Call for Middlebury College to Do the Same

On Friday, October 12, 2012, Middlebury College welcomed His Holiness the Dalai Lama to campus. An announcement was made that in honor of the visit from the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize Recipient, the College had chosen to demonstrate ethical leadership in divesting its endowment from war and environmental destruction. In reality, the satirical notice about Middlebury’s divestment was written by the Dalai Lama Welcoming Committee, a group of students concerned that the College embraces practices inconsistent with its own proclaimed values.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama told the College, “Education is supposed to reduce the gap between appearance and reality.” The intent of the press release was to bring attention to the unsettling reality that Middlebury has millions of dollars invested in industries of violence, while it appears to stand for universal compassion and peace.

Middlebury College has not received better than a “C” on endowment transparency from the College Sustainability Report Card. While the specific companies in which the endowment is invested have never been disclosed to the student body, Investure—the firm that manages Middlebury’s endowment—confirmed last spring that they do not screen for arms manufacturing, military contractors, or fossil fuel companies. Given that these are among the most profitable industries in existence, it is safe to say that they are included in the College’s portfolio. Complicity has on-the-ground implications: US-made weapons fueling the drug wars in Mexico, drone attacks killing civilians in Pakistan, and the Keystone XL pipeline threatening communities from Canada to the Gulf. The choice to value monetary gain over human life epitomizes the declaration of His Holiness that “we have become slaves of money.”

There is a long history of academic institutions divesting to demonstrate their values. In the 1980s, for instance, over one hundred and fifty colleges, including Middlebury, divested from South African companies to oppose apartheid. Today, a new call to divest is being heard around the nation: Bill McKibben—founder of 350.org and Middlebury College Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Residence—recently kicked off the national "Do the Math” campaign. It is focused on urging universities to divest from fossil fuels because “It just doesn’t make sense for universities to invest in a system that will leave their students no livable planet to use their degrees on.”

The Dalai Lama stated in his final lecture at the College that “peace will come through our active action.” With this action, the Dalai Lama Welcoming Committee instilled a sense of urgency in the community. The administration attempted to expel the students; however, their effort ultimately backfired. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education quickly voiced their concern regarding the school choosing to clamp down on students’ rights to free speech. The students were granted an open hearing. In front of an audience of 272 people, filling the largest auditorium on campus, they articulated the tradition upon which they drew and morals that compelled them to act. Not only did the judicial board give the students no official College discipline, they expressed their true desire to see Middlebury divest from violence and environmental destruction.

Discourse has shifted on campus and across the state of Vermont. Divestment to align Middlebury’s practices with its values has transformed from an illusory pontification to an absolute imperative. There is a growing contingent of prospective students, current students, alumni, faculty, and staff who are coming together to leverage their power to affect their community. In so doing, they collectively assert that while Middlebury indeed exerts a global influence, it must not do so carelessly. By taking responsibility, Middlebury can contribute towards making the 21st century, as the Dalai Lama insisted, “the century of peace.”

Tim Schornak, Director of the College Office of Communications of the Dalai Lama Welcoming Committee,
AKA: Molly Stuart 15.5, Jay Saper ‘13, Jenny Marks ‘14.5, Sam Koplinka-Loehr ‘13, Amitai Ben-Abba ‘15.5, and a growing contingent

Note: Tim Schornak is not affiliated with any formal student organization.

Permalink 0 comments
By mary on Oct 26 2012 - 12:51pm Tagged:

Close up of Andy and Mike with spray paint cans

We're making a new movie, The Yes Men are Revolting, that uses humor and disruptive action to focus on climate change, the corporate money that keeps us from addressing it, and the movement that can take our democracy back. It will also launch our most ambitious plan ever: a platform to turn every viewer's enthusiasm and energy into action around these these life-or-death issues and more.

But to do all this we need you. We need you to support our crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, or just spread the word.

When you pledge to this project, a whole host of unique rewards are yours—including a Secret Decoder Ring that's loaded with media and an access code to secret communications we'll be sending you soon. There are also some more practical rewards—like a Halliburton Survivaball, essential for surviving imminent climate catastrophe.

By pledging, you will be making possible a very funny film about our action-packed mission to hold governments accountable despite overwhelming corporate influence. It's got hilarious exploits, shocking documentary footage, nasty stings on evildoers, and a personal story that's sure to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

But what's truly unique about this film is that it's going to help every viewer get active herself via a human-staffed platform we're calling the "Action Switchboard." This platform, which we're designing in cahoots with folks at Mozilla, taps our 100,000-activist database to create fun, meaningful, movement-building projects around the issues we all care about.

On our Kickstarter page, you'll find one of the weirdest, funniest “direct action” videos you're likely to see. Check it out—and even if you're not in a position to kick in money, you can tweet or facebook the link.

Please support and spread the word about The Yes Men Are Revolting and the Action Switchboard. Direct action is critical to democracy. Let's make more of it!

 

Permalink 0 comments
By mary on Oct 2 2012 - 12:38pm Tagged: Project: Murder Is Bad

Murder is Bad

Even in Nigeria

Houston, TX (October 2, 2012) — Early Monday morning, 71,010 Shell employees received an email from the company's "Grassroots Employee Empowerment Division" providing information on Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, a pivotal human rights case being argued in the U.S. Supreme Court. The email contained links to news stories, as well as a tool to help employees tweet their feelings about the case at key US news anchors (and Oprah Winfrey).

The only thing is, Shell has no "Grassroots Employee Empowerment Division," and they don't want publicity for the case. The email was in fact the work of an activist group called People Against Legalizing Murder (PALM), who received the list of Shell emails from what they believe to be a group of disaffected employees. (A similar leak occurred two years ago.)

Within minutes of the email being sent out, Shell internally blocked the site, preventing employees from accessing it. "I would love to participate, but access is denied to all links you sent out," wrote one employee among many. The 71,010 employees were informed this morning of the situation and the site's new URL.

PALM intended the action to help shine a spotlight on the case, brought by the widow of Dr. Barinem Kiobel, who was hanged along with novelist Ken Saro-Wiwa for opposition to Shell's drilling plans in West Africa. Shell is alleged to have aided paramilitary forces that raided more than 60 villages, killed over 800 people, and displaced 30,000 more.

To prevail, Shell lawyers must overturn a 200-year-old law, the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), that compensates victims of international crimes. (The lawhas been used to compensate Holocaust survivors who sued for restitution from corporations that profited from slavery and forced labor during World War II.) Shell's lawyers are arguing that their corporation is not subject to the ATS because it is not a person.

"When it comes to things like election spending, Shell and other corporations want to have all the rights of people," said Sean Dagohoy from PALM. "But when accused of murder, Shell conveniently argues that they aren't a person. A ruling in their favor would be a very dangerous precedent, and would badly undermine the United States' reputation as a place that cares about human rights. That's why we attempted to reach out to Shell employees to help get the word out."

"Surely most Shell employees, like most people, don't want multinationals to get away with murder just because murder's convenient," said Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Lab, which provided technical assistance for the action.

"Shell needs to let its employees speak," said Mike Bonanno of the Yes Lab. "They can prevent it for a day, but in the long run they have no choice."

Contact

Sean Dagohoy
People Against Legalizing Murder (PALM)

Andy Bichlbaum or Mike Bonanno
The Yes Lab

Permalink 0 comments
By Andy Bichlbaum on Sep 30 2012 - 8:41pm Tagged:

Attention NYU students: TWO subversive pleasures are available for credit!

1. JOIN THE YES LAB, beginning October 13, and fight for a worthwhile cause while having more fun than you thought possible.

It'll start with a full-day introductory workshop Oct. 13, during which you'll team up with local activist groups and the Yes Men to figure out just the right project for you. You and your group will then meet once a week throughout the semester for feedback.

Visit the Hemispheric Institute website to sign up, and yeslab.org/projects to learn how people like you have used trickery, mischief, and giggles to promote a better, more interesting world. If you're interested in receiving NYU credit for Yes Lab participation, email nyu@yeslab.org.

2. ATTEND CREATIVE ACTIVISM THURSDAYS beginning October 11, and continuing all year. It's a series of lectures, workshops, and other events focusing on the potential for societal change, and what we can do to bring it about through creative tactics and strategies.

Visit the Hemispheric Institute website for our amazing fall 2012 lineup. And if you're interested in receiving NYU credit, email nyu@yeslab.org for more info.

Creative Activism Thursdays is co-sponsored by NYU Dean for Social Science, the Hemispheric Institute, the Yes Lab, the Humanities Initiative at NYU Working Research Group on Artistic Activism, CAA, and Not an Alternative. Speakers often attend following Yes Lab Friday.

Permalink 0 comments
By mary on Aug 13 2012 - 1:21pm Tagged: pot, San Diego, Laura Duffy Project: Flow of drugs in La Jolla stopped cold

July 31, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PHARMACY HOAX REVEALED

San Diego, CA – The San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the nation’s largest medical cannabis advocacy group, working with LGBT activism group Canvass for a Cause and as part of the The Yes Men’s “Yes Labs” project, released a series of satirical press releases on Tuesday which indicated that U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy would begin targeting pharmacies for closure using asset forfeiture proceedings.  The purpose of the action was to draw attention to the U.S. Attorney’s harmful efforts to deny patients access to doctor-recommended medical cannabis.

“Just as the closure of retail pharmacies, like CVS or Walgreens, is poor public health policy, so is the federal government’s crackdown on medical cannabis dispensaries,” said Eugene Davidovich of San Diego ASA. “Pharmacies, like medical cannabis dispensaries, play an essential role in our communities as they help the sick and dying treat and manage various medical conditions,” continued Davidovich. “Laura Duffy and the Obama Administration have no place interfering in the implementation of state law by shutting down dispensaries that thousands of patients rely on.”

The real Laura Duffy isn’t joking.  In October 2011, Duffy and her fellow U.S. Attorneys in California began an escalated attack on medical cannabis businesses. “The California marijuana industry is not about providing medicine to the sick,” said Duffy at the time. “It’s a pervasive for-profit industry that violates federal law.” Since October, Duffy has used threats of criminal prosecution and asset forfeiture to close over two hundred medical cannabis facilities in her District.

Despite claims from Attorney General Eric Holder that his Justice Department was only targeting dispensaries operating “out of conformity with state law,” Duffy and the other U.S. Attorneys have indiscriminately targeted these facilities, regardless of “conformity,” shutting down all but a few in San Diego County.  Most recently Duffy attempted to shut down the only collective in her district that is operating under a permit from the Sheriff’s department./p>

For many patients who cannot sustain the regular consumption of pharmaceutical medication, cannabis isn’t simply an alternative; it’s their only option. From reducing nausea and increasing appetite for people living with cancer or HIV/AIDS to stabilizing chronic pain, the vast majority of California’s medical cannabis patients rely on dispensaries. Advocates argue that by closing dispensaries, Duffy and other U.S. Attorneys are pushing thousands of patients into the illicit market and complicating the job of law enforcement.

“Today’s press releases may have been a hoax, but for the thousands of patients adversely impacted by Duffy’s attacks on medical cannabis, it’s no joke. The LGBT community fought hard to legalize HIV/AIDS medicine for their family and we carry on that tradition today” said Rachel Scoma, from Canvass for a Cause. “Patients need safe and legal access to their medication, not prosecution from the federal government.”

For more information contact:
sandiegoasa@gmail.com
National Media Contact: Kris Hermes
email: kris@safeaccessnow.org
phone: 510-681-6361

Permalink 0 comments
By Andy Bichlbaum on Jun 22 2012 - 11:52am Tagged:

If you're with a New York-based activist organization and want to carry out an action around your campaign goals with advice from the Yes Men and the help of awesome NYU student interns—and learn the Yes Men's publicizing, brainstorming, and project-management techniques in the process—just visit www.yeslab.org/orgs and follow the links to apply!

NYU students take note! If want to engage in a kick-ass activist project with the Yes Men, and get essential experience with a local org (and internship credit!) at the same time, then visit www.yeslab.org/hemi and drop us a line! (Others will be welcome as well, though you won't get internship credit!)

Permalink 0 comments
By Andy Bichlbaum on Jun 8 2012 - 11:48am Tagged: Project: Shell's Epic Party Fail

Arcticready or #Shellfail? Shell's Climate Disaster Gets a Rehearsal
Activists claim responsibility for viral sensation, corporate makeover

Greenpeace, the Yes Lab, and members of the Occupy movement are claiming responsibility for a set of actions that have focused intense attention on Shell's Arctic drilling program.

"This experience shows that a few energized people can compete with the billions that Shell spends on advertising and lobbying," said James Turner from Greenpeace, who posed as an advertising executive at the event. "As people find out how this oil company is exploiting global warming to cause yet more global warming, thus endangering everyone, they won't allow it, no matter how many billions Shell has in its war chest."

The centerpiece of the action was a lavish party in the Space Needle, in which a model of an Arctic-bound oil rig "accidentally" spewed liquid in the face of the rig designer's "widow"—actually 84-year-old Occupy activist Dorli Rainey, well known for having been brutally pepper-sprayed in the face by Seattle Police during Occupy protests last fall.

A one-minute video of that "malfunction," shot by Occupy "infiltrator" Logan Price, quickly reached the top spot on Reddit and the #2 spot on Youtube, with a half-million views in less than 24 hours.

"We know that climate change is putting the entire planet at risk," said Rainey. "It's our duty to stop companies like Shell from using fossil fuels as a lethal weapon—even if it means being sprayed again and again in the face."

As Shell denied, with disappointing blandness, having had anything to do with the party or the "malfunction," the Yes Lab sent out a press release on Shell's behalf, threatening anyone who reposted the video and attacking also the activists' brand-new ArcticReady.com website, which includes a social media ad generator and a dangerously addictive children's video game called Angry Bergs. The fake Shell release generated additional media coverage.

Earlier this year, Shell obtained a legal injunction stopping any Greenpeace activist from coming within 1km of any Shell vessel. To thank the company, Greenpeace teamed up with the Yes Lab to plan a promotional advertising campaign for Shell's Arctic drilling efforts, which Shell prefers to keep quiet. Besides the ill-fated ceremony and the website, the campaign includes a number of other elements that will shadow Shell's summer Arctic destruction campaign.

The device which sprayed Rainey's face was a model of Shell's drill rig, the Kulluk, which is set to soon depart Seattle for the Arctic. The Kulluk was built in 1983 by Mitsui, the same company that, two decades later, built the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon. Earlier this year, Mitsui paid out $90 million to the U.S. for its role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

"What Shell is preparing to do in the Arctic is the height of obscenity," said Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Lab. "We've got to do everything we possibly can to draw attention to this unfolding disaster, and more importantly we've got to stop it."

"The melting Arctic is becoming a defining environmental issue of our era, and this campaign is just a taste of what's to come," said Turner.

(Note: As of this writing, some major news sources are still posting information from the fake Shell press release. The Yes Lab's intention is not to allow misinformation to linger.)

Contact:
James Turner, Greenpeace, james.turner@greenpeace.org, 415-812-1142
The Yes Lab, info@yeslab.org

Permalink 0 comments
By Andy Bichlbaum on May 14 2012 - 5:59pm Tagged:

Do you know any New York organizations that would like to ruin more nasty parties, or otherwise make a splash around a campaign issue? Read on!

And let's have our own party in Times Square TOMORROW (Tuesday, May 15th, at 6PM) to make it clear that another city (and another world, of course) is possible. More information: anothernyc.org, @anothernyc, facebook.com/anothernyc.

Permalink 0 comments

Pages

Subscribe to Blog