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By mary.notari on May 14 2012 - 11:51am Tagged: TPP, globalization, award, party Project: Trans-Pacific Partnership Receives "Corporate Power Tool Award"

May 12, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DALLAS PARTY ENDS BADLY FOR U.S. TRADE REPS AND FEDERAL AGENTS
Dozens of rogue "delegates" disrupt Trans-Pacific Partnership gala with "award," "mic check," mass toilet paper replacement, projection

Two dozen rogue "delegates" disrupted the corporate-sponsored welcome gala for the high-stakes Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations yesterday with a fake award ceremony and "mic check." Other activists, meanwhile, replaced hundreds of rolls of toilet paper (TP) throughout the conference venue with more informative versions, and projected a message on the venue's facade.

The first action began when a smartly-dressed man approached the podium immediately after the gala's keynote speech by Ron Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative and former mayor of Dallas. The man (local puppeteer David Goodwin) introduced himself as "Git Haversall," president of the "Texas Corporate Power Partnership," and announced he was giving Kirk and other U.S. trade negotiators the "2012 Corporate Power Tool Award," which "Haversall's" partner held aloft.

The crowd of negotiators and corporate representatives applauded, and "Haversall" continued: "I'd like to personally thank the negotiators for their relentless efforts. The TPP agreement is shaping up to be a fantastic way for us to maximize profits, regardless of what the public of this nation—or any other nation—thinks is right."

At that point, the host of the reception took the microphone back and announced that the evening's formal programming had concluded. But Mr. Haversall confidently re-took the microphone and warmly invited Kirk to accept the award.

Kirk moved towards the stage, but federal agents blocked his path to protect him from further embarrassment. At that point, a dozen well-dressed "delegates" (local activists, some from Occupy Dallas) broke into ecstatic dance and chanted "TPP! TPP! TPP!" for several minutes until Dallas police arrived.

Fifteen minutes later, another dozen interlopers from Occupy Dallas interrupted the reception with a spirited "mic-check." Outside, activists projected a message on the hotel, and throughout the night, delegates discovered that hundreds of rolls of custom toilet paper had been installed in the conference venue.

The activists disrupted the gala to protest the hijacking of trade negotiations by an extreme pro-corporate agenda. "The public and the media are locked out of these meetings," said Kristi Lara from Occupy Dallas, one of the infiltrators. "We can't let U.S. trade officials get away with secretly limiting Internet freedoms, restricting financial regulation, extending medicine patents, and giving corporations other a whole host of other powers allowing them to quash the rights of people and democracies, for example by offshoring jobs in ever new ways. Trade officials know the public won't stand for this, which is why they try to keep their work secret—and that's why we had to crash their party."

There is mounting criticism of the U.S. role in pushing the negotiations forward in secrecy, despite the public's overwhelming disagreement with TPP goals. ("Buy American" procurement preferences are supported by over 85% of Americans, but U.S. trade negotiators are preparing to accept a ban on such preferences. Two weeks ago, 69 members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama asking him not to accept that ban.)

Many are calling the Obama administration duplicitous: while the administration publicly hypes a plan to revitalize American manufacturing and create jobs in the U.S., U.S. trade officials push for new "investor rights" that would make it easier for American companies to lay off domestic workers and open plants overseas.

"The TPP has been branded as a trade 'negotiation' by its corporate proponents, but in reality it's a place for big business to get its way behind closed doors," said Pete Rokicki of Occupy Dallas. "This anti-democratic maneuver can be stopped if the public gets active—just look at the movement that killed the ill-advised SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) law a few months ago. That's why Obama's trade officials lock the public, the press and even members of Congress from the trade negotiation process."

"We're really happy to know that even in their most private moments, US trade reps are reminded that a vast majority of the public stands opposed to corporate-friendly, closed-door trade deals like the TPP," said Sean Dagohoy from the Yes Lab, who assisted in the actions.

Contacts:
    Occupy Dallas: Kristi Lara, kristi096@gmail.com, 505-463-7013
    The Yes Lab: disruption@yeslab.org

For more information on the TPP, live from Dallas, contact Lori Wallach, Public Citizen Global Trade Watch, Lwallach@citizen.org, 202-454-5107

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By Andy Bichlbaum on May 12 2012 - 2:24pm Tagged:

Know of a New York organization that would like to try some Yes Lab shenanigans in the fall? Read on!

May 12, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DALLAS PARTY ENDS BADLY FOR U.S. TRADE REPS AND FEDERAL AGENTS
Dozens of rogue "delegates" disrupt Trans-Pacific Partnership gala with "award," "mic check," mass toilet paper replacement, projection

Two dozen rogue "delegates" disrupted the corporate-sponsored welcome gala for the high-stakes Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations yesterday with a fake award ceremony and "mic check." Other activists, meanwhile, replaced hundreds of rolls of toilet paper (TP) throughout the conference venue with more informative versions, and projected a message on the venue's facade.

The first action began when a smartly-dressed man approached the podium immediately after the gala's keynote speech by Ron Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative and former mayor of Dallas. The man (local puppeteer David Goodwin) introduced himself as "Git Haversall," president of the "Texas Corporate Power Partnership," and announced he was giving Kirk and other U.S. trade negotiators the "2012 Corporate Power Tool Award," which "Haversall's" partner held aloft.

The crowd of negotiators and corporate representatives applauded, and "Haversall" continued: "I'd like to personally thank the negotiators for their relentless efforts. The TPP agreement is shaping up to be a fantastic way for us to maximize profits, regardless of what the public of this nation—or any other nation—thinks is right."

At that point, the host of the reception took the microphone back and announced that the evening's formal programming had concluded. But Mr. Haversall confidently re-took the microphone and warmly invited Kirk to accept the award.

Kirk moved towards the stage, but federal agents blocked his path to protect him from further embarrassment. At that point, a dozen well-dressed "delegates" (local activists, some from Occupy Dallas) broke into ecstatic dance and chanted "TPP! TPP! TPP!" for several minutes until Dallas police arrived.

Fifteen minutes later, another dozen interlopers from Occupy Dallas interrupted the reception with a spirited "mic-check." Outside, activists projected a message on the hotel, and throughout the night, delegates discovered that hundreds of rolls of custom toilet paper had been installed in the conference venue.

The activists disrupted the gala to protest the hijacking of trade negotiations by an extreme pro-corporate agenda. "The public and the media are locked out of these meetings," said Kristi Lara from Occupy Dallas, one of the infiltrators. "We can't let U.S. trade officials get away with secretly limiting Internet freedoms, restricting financial regulation, extending medicine patents, and giving corporations other a whole host of other powers allowing them to quash the rights of people and democracies, for example by offshoring jobs in ever new ways. Trade officials know the public won't stand for this, which is why they try to keep their work secret—and that's why we had to crash their party."

There is mounting criticism of the U.S. role in pushing the negotiations forward in secrecy, despite the public's overwhelming disagreement with TPP goals. ("Buy American" procurement preferences are supported by over 85% of Americans, but U.S. trade negotiators are preparing to accept a ban on such preferences. Two weeks ago, 69 members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama asking him not to accept that ban.)

Many are calling the Obama administration duplicitous: while the administration publicly hypes a plan to revitalize American manufacturing and create jobs in the U.S., U.S. trade officials push for new "investor rights" that would make it easier for American companies to lay off domestic workers and open plants overseas.

"The TPP has been branded as a trade 'negotiation' by its corporate proponents, but in reality it's a place for big business to get its way behind closed doors," said Pete Rokicki of Occupy Dallas. "This anti-democratic maneuver can be stopped if the public gets active—just look at the movement that killed the ill-advised SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) law a few months ago. That's why Obama's trade officials lock the public, the press and even members of Congress from the trade negotiation process."

"We're really happy to know that even in their most private moments, US trade reps are reminded that a vast majority of the public stands opposed to corporate-friendly, closed-door trade deals like the TPP," said Sean Dagohoy from the Yes Lab, who assisted in the actions.

Contacts:
    Occupy Dallas: Kristi Lara, kristi096@gmail.com, 505-463-7013
    The Yes Lab: disruption@yeslab.org

For more information on the TPP, live from Dallas, contact Lori Wallach, Public Citizen Global Trade Watch, Lwallach@citizen.org, 202-454-5107

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Apr 22 2012 - 2:38pm Tagged:

If you're in New York City, visit yeslab.org/hemi to find out how you can be involved in next semester's Yes Lab @ NYU's Hemispheric Institute. It'll start with a full-day introductory workshop, during which you'll work with local activists and the Yes Men to figure out just the right project for you. You'll then meet once a week throughout the semester to get feedback on where you and your group have gotten.

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Apr 22 2012 - 11:33am Tagged:

This from the +Brigades:

If you're in New York City, join +Brigades and the Yes Lab today at 5:30 for: 

The Yes Fest: A Celebration of Successful Activism and Pranks

Kimmel Center, Eisner and Lubin 4th Floor Auditorium
60 Washington Square South

5:30 – 7:30 PM

 
The occasion is Occupy Earth Day! 
 
Coming on the heels of yesterdays "melt-in" at Grand Central Station, and this afternoon's Jazz Funeral for the Earth as We Know It, we will meet to discuss the history and future of creative direct action in environmental movements, with an eye to May Day and beyond.
 
Special guests include veteran labor historian and global justice organizer Jeremy Brecher, who has recently written about the relation between Occupy, May Day, and the climate crisis: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/03/26-8
 
We will also do some + Brigades training, and maybe conclude by taking things over to a nearby site of ecological injustice...
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By Andy Bichlbaum on Apr 19 2012 - 9:15am Tagged: Project: Your B of A

April 19, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ON-THE-BRINK BANK STILL NOT YOURS (YET)
Dow Jones posts fake release for two hours; bank gets fake website blacklisted, briefly

    Contact: bofa@yeslab.org

Bank of America executives, investors, and opponents alike reacted with surprise to yesterday's news—posted for two hours on Dow Jones Newswire and elsewhere—that the mammoth financial institution, realizing it was heading for a taxpayer bailout, was asking Americans to start thinking about what they'll do with the bank once they own it, and to start advertising that vision too.

The news, of course, was a hoax.

The fake YourBofA.com website was quickly, but temporarily, blacklisted by Google as a potential "phishing scam," despite the site containing no forms, spyware, or other characteristics of a site engaging in phishing. Firefox and Google Chrome users who tried to load YourBofA.com were warned that the site may be "dangerous," while some individuals with Gmail accounts reported that emails containing the URL were bounced back or not delivered. An investigation by Raw Story concluded that "It's likely that Bank of America reported the site to Google as a phishing scam." Shortly after the article's publication—and with the help of thousands of volunteers complaining to Google—the website was taken off the blacklist.

Today's reports of slumping profits make the fake site all the more timely. "This site is a forum for people to imagine what they could do with this bank," said Jane O'Heely of the Yes Lab, one of the site's creators. "The ideas we've gotten already show we all know as much as bankers about how a bank ought to be run—and actually, a good deal more."

"A bank doesn't have to be something that charges you fees, invests your money in things you abhor, destroys poor communities with predatory lending, and then threatens to take down the global economy if you don't agree to bail it out," said Logan Price, who helped create BreakUpBofA.com. "Thinking of alternatives to this nightmare is not rocket science."

The hoax was perpetrated by means of a fake press release, followed two hours later by a fake angry retort, so that no journalist would be fooled for very long. "We wanted to get people thinking about how they'd run banking differently, not to really fool anyone," noted O'Heely. "The whole fake release thing was just a way to publicize it and get people posting ideas and ads."

"Any response by Bank of America would just help spread the word, and they seem to know that," added O'Heely. When Bank of America got Google to blacklist the website as "phishing" (which it was not), the Yes Lab mobilized 4000 volunteers to complain, which quickly worked to de-list the site and give this press release a small extra hook.

The website's centerpiece is an open call to American taxpayers to begin considering what they will do after a bailout, when they'll have a chance to become the company’s majority owners. The "bank" also asks the public to advertise their visions with a tool for generating web banners—images that could give Bank of America a very real "google problem" not unlike Chevron's. The site also includes a letter from CEO Brian Moynihan that admits to the bank's many failings—short-sighted investment decisions and the massive accumulation of legal liabilities, causing plummeting share prices and inexorably pushing the company towards a public bailout.

The YourBofA.com website was a collaboration between the Yes Lab, Rainforest Action Network, and New Bottom Line. A number of folks within Occupy Wall Street's Alternative Banking working group also helped with the site. Like other Yes Lab websites, this one is hosted by May First / People Link.

The website comes at a time of rampant distrust of big banks. Even top Federal Government regulators have recently called for the end of "too big to fail." As Harvey Rosenblum, the head of the Dallas Fed’s research department, recently wrote: "Many of the biggest banks have sputtered, their balance sheets still clogged with toxic assets accumulated in the boom years... creating a residue of distrust for the government, the banking system, the Fed and capitalism itself."

"Most Americans, and even some regulators, see what's wrong with the state of our banking system," said Price. "We have a real opportunity to safely and proactively push this company towards managed bankruptcy and create smaller, more responsive financial institutions that help American communities rather than harm them."

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Apr 9 2012 - 9:12am Tagged:

This Tuesday, April 10, Ivan Marovic returns to speak at 7pm at 34 Stuyvesant Street, room 105. Come see a surprising and entertaining event, followed by a historic visit to Union Square.
(September 22, five days after the occupation of Zuccotti, Ivan spoke about how his youth movement, Otpor, had overthrown the Serbian dictator in 2000; then he went and addressed the occupiers—thus, amusingly, helping spark some short-lived far-right conspiracy theories about Soros, the CIA, and who knows what else funding OWS.)

Then, Thursday, April 12, at 7pm, come to a panel on religion and revolutionary activism at the Hemispheric Institute, 20 Cooper Square, 5th floor.

This Saturday is a city-wide People's Assembly in Central Park, part of the lead-up to May 1.

Finally, April 19th is the last event in this speaking series this year, with the amazing Steve Lambert. It'll be a great event, where you'll be the first to find out how you can become involved in the Yes Lab next year.

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Mar 27 2012 - 10:29am Tagged:

This Thursday, March 29, come see David Graeber discuss culture as creative refusal—how what we think of as primordial "cultures," historically, can just as easily be conceived as social movements which were to some degree successful in achieving their aims. This event will take place at 20 Cooper Sq., 5th Floor. Please RSVP! (David is an eminent anthropologist and anarchist who has been politically active for a long time, and active in the Occupy movement since its proto-beginnings in June 2011; he has called Occupy "the opening salvo in a wave of negotiations over the dissolution of the American Empire." His most recent book is Debt: The First Five Thousand Years.)

Also, if you're free on Friday from 2-5pm, come to Creative Activism in the Age of Digital Technologies, same place. It'll be awesome!

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Mar 20 2012 - 9:26pm Tagged:

This just in: the Union Square occupation is completely fantastic!

In other news, this Thursday, March 22, Jonathan Matthew Smucker, director of Beyond the Choir, will discuss and workshop the "political identity paradox" (how social movements like OWS require a strong sense of group identity in order to foster commitment among participants, but this same cohesion can also inhibit a movement's ability to connect with a broader public) and other organizing issues. (This workshop, like most talks in this series, is at 7pm at the Hemispheric Institute, 20 Cooper Square, 5th floor.) After the talk, we'll head to Union Square.

Then, Saturday at 7pm, come clown around with the +Brigades—location TBD, but probably Union Square. (Check this page for updates.)

And March 29, hear David Graeber discuss culture as creative refusal—how what we think of as primordial "cultures," historically, can just as easily be conceived as social movements which were to some degree successful in achieving their aims. Please check the website before the event, as details for this talk may change.

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Mar 6 2012 - 3:47pm Tagged: Project: Three Strikes, You're In!

March 6, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

No Free Happy Meals for NYPD ‘Stop and Frisk’ Victims
‘Three Strikes You’re In!’ is elaborate hoax aimed at racism of NYPD, McDonald’s

CONTACT: People Enraged by Racist Policing (PERP):
     Jerry Goralnick, jgoralnick@juno.com, 917-450-6301
     Divad Durant, divadbx@gmail.com, 646-327-3679

NEW YORK — “Whoa, really?”

That was a popular reaction this morning to the news that McDonald’s had partnered with the New York Police Department to hand out free Happy Meals™ to those stopped and frisked three times without charge or summons.

A press release described the arrangement as “a bold new program that rewards New Yorkers for their patience with the NYPD’s ‘Stop and Frisk’ policy.” Several YouTube videos showed McDonald’s customers, official “Three Strikes” vouchers in hand, requesting and receiving their free “Meals.”

To many New Yorkers, it seemed an entirely plausible, if laughable, effort to address community concerns. After all, “Stop and Frisk” ensnared over 684,000 New Yorkers in 2011, 90% of them African American and Latino. The city’s police force seemed overdue for just such an image-burnishing makeover.

So, was “Three Strikes You’re In!” an earnest effort to smooth things over with a disgruntled public? Not exactly.

The website (since taken down at the behest of McDonald's), Facebook page, and YouTube videos were all part of an elaborate hoax by People Enraged by Racist Policing (PERP), an activist group working with the Yes Lab at New York University. The group is seeking to highlight what they say are racist and discriminatory policies of the NYPD, while also calling attention to McDonald’s intense marketing of unhealthy food to residents of low-income urban areas.

“The cops ‘stop and frisk’ people simply because of how we look and where we live,” said Divad Durant, a PERP spokeperson. “This kind of policing creates an atmosphere of fear and distrust in our neighborhoods, and has convinced New Yorkers that the NYPD is anything but just.”

According to its own data, the New York Police Department made over 684,000 street stops in 2011, a 603% increase over 2002, when Mayor Bloomberg first took office, and a 14% increase over 2010. Nearly 90% of “Stop and Frisk” victims are African American and Latino, though they make up only 50% of the city’s population, according to the 2010 census. Fewer than 10% of the stops led to an arrest, and almost none of those to a conviction. In fact, many of those arrested found themselves handcuffed simply because they had questioned the right of the police to frisk them.

According to PERP, the disparate impact of stop-and-frisk on people of color, particularly in low-income communities, is just the tip of the iceberg. “Stop-and-frisk is just one notable example of an NYPD that is discriminatory and unjust in policy and practice,” said Jerry Goralnick, another PERP member. “The increasing frequency of extreme brutality, such as the recent beating of Jatiek Reed and the killing of Ramarley Graham in the Bronx, are even more outrageous and horrific.”

Abusive policing also has less visible impacts on marginalized groups. Sexual assaults of women, profiling and illegal surveillance of Muslims, and inappropriate treatment of trans-gender, homeless, and immigrant New Yorkers are widespread, according to PERP.

But why was McDonald’s part of the act?

“Like the NYPD, McDonald’s specifically targets low-income communities of color, but in a different way: as markets from which to draw profits, at the expense of our health and well-being,” said Durant.

McDonald’s 365Black.com website merges references to African culture with the company’s marketing goals. “Like the unique African Baobab tree, which nourishes its community with its leaves and fruit, McDonald’s has branched out to the African-American community nourishing it with valuable programs and opportunities,” says the website, which appears to be completely authentic.

Activists say that McDonald’s, with condescending and manipulative marketing that co-opts African-American culture, simply wants to profit from minority New Yorkers at the expense of their health. “Last time I checked, baobab fruit is not high in fat, cholesterol, and salt,” said Durant. “In fact, it’s rich in Vitamin C, and reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease. McDonald’s shouldn’t compare their unhealthy fare with something that’s actually good for you.”

“Other than those who work for the McDonald’s marketing machine, does anyone ever use ‘nourish’ to describe anything about McDonald’s?” added Goralnick.

“McDonald’s wants us to think its ‘food’ is not just life-shortening gruel pumped into unsuspecting stomachs via a tube made of salt, fat, and clever marketing,” said Durant. “And that’s particularly true in the African American community, where it uses TV ads and websites like 365Black.com to tell a wholly inaccurate and misleading story about the company and what it offers.”

Why All the Trouble?
A Statement from Project Organizers

"'Three Strikes, You’re In!' is a joke, but a biased, abusive police department that makes us less safe is no laughing matter. We did all this work simply to call attention to the issue. The media, advocates, legislators and the general public should look to the work of the excellent organizations, campaigns and coalitions who are doing serious work to address these issue and develop real solutions.”

Some New York City formations working to stop abusive policing and develop solutions include:

The Yes Lab and PERP are not affiliated with any of these groups.

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Feb 26 2012 - 11:52pm Tagged:

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