Tagged: Environment


Frederick, Maryland has one of the highest cancer rates in the country, thanks to the chemical and biological weapons produced and destroyed in and around Ft. Detrick. Thousands of people who've drunk Frederick's contaminated groundwater have died long, painful deaths.

Now that they're dead, why should they miss out on Halloween? It's their day, after all! And if there's one thing on their minds, it's to let people know who and what killed them—and to prevent others from dying too.

On Friday, Oct. 30th, concered citizens of Western Maryland and the D.C. area, members of the Yes Lab, and the Kristen Renee Foundation created a light-hearted—yet intensely spooky—"ghost march" of the departed victims of the Ft. Detrick cancer cluster. Dressed in their finest white, the group invaded the military base, crashed a Halloween themed historical tour, and haunted downtown Frederick for an hour or two. It was the first of many annual events to come, until there's justice. Check out this action as featured in an episode of ASPIREist.

Shockingly few people in and around Frederick know about the cancer cluster. Even people who live on Shookstown Road, where the Kristen Renee Foundation documented 118 cases of unusual environmental cancer, don't know about it! This event was intentionally made fun and easily replicable in order to make the invisible visible for everyone—in Frederick and in the nation. That's the only way change will happen!

What you can do:

  • To join the class-action lawsuit against Ft. Detrick: file an "SF95" form, keep a copy, and let the Kristen Renee Foundation know that you did. Email mike@hugo-law.com for more info.
  • Urge your Senators to file a subpoena to unlock government data for this cancer cluster. (U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin; State Senator C. Anthony Muse)
  • Visit www.kristenrenee.org for more info about the Frederick cancer cluster, and www.chej.org for more on cancer clusters in general.
  • This and every future Halloween, print out this flier and join in the fun. It's only sustained action that achieves change—so let's make this bigger and bigger each year, until the Army has to fix their toxic Frederick legacy.
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Talk about truth in advertising.

A day-long comedy of errors, and Chevron's waking nightmare, began when Rainforest Action Network and Amazon Watch, together with the Yes Lab, pre-empted Chevron's multi-million dollar “We Agree” ad campaign with a satirical version of their own. The activists' version highlights Chevron's environmental and social abuses—especially the toxic mess the oil giant has left in Ecuador, which Chevron has been attempting to “greenwash” for years.

The activists' pre-emptive campaign began with a press release from a spoof Chevron domain, which launched the fake “We Agree” site hours before the real Chevron could launch its own, real campaign. The fake “We Agree” site featured four “improved” advertisements, complete with downloadable PDF files to be used in on-the-street postering. (There are now hundreds of such printable advertisements, as well as a whole associated wheatpasting contest.)

Nine hours later, after issuing its own “We Agree” press release, the real Chevron decried the hoax in a predictably curt and humorless manner. Shortly thereafter the counter-campaign issued a much better denial on Chevron's behalf, laying out Chevron's principal arguments in its Ecuador case. Throughout the course of the day a slow vaudeville unfolded on the web, as a number of press outlets, from industry mouthpieces to the AFP and even a watchdog group, produced accidental mash-ups of “real” and fake information.

On the heels of this PR smackdown, the groups announced an online contest for submissions of print, web, and even tv ads further satirizing Chevron's blatent greenwashing. Hundreds of submissions poured in and were posted in online, and were wheat pasted in cities nationwide, effectively derailing the shiny new $50 million campaign. (One video, submitted by the comedy troupe Funny or Die, cracked up online legions, as did a large number of print submissions.)

Chevron's plan for the “We Agree” offensive was first leaked to Amazon Watch, when ecologist blogger Lauren Selman received a casting call to appear in one of Chevron's new split-screen television ads. Selman used the information she gathered to help Amazon Watch, the Rainforest Action Network, and the Yes Men pre-empt Chevron's insulting PR campaign. (Read Selman's blog post here.)

Another leak came shortly after, when Chevron's ad agency, McGarryBowen, asked DC street artist César Maxit if he could help wheat-paste the new Chevron posters. Instead, Maxit sent the Chevron files to the Rainforest Action Network and helped build their campaign. (See video here.)

The activists' continuing efforts ensured that Chevron's PR strategy backfired severely, as media about the action highlighted Chevron's embarrasing and atrocious environmental and human rights record. That was exactly the point, said the activists: to raise public awareness around Chevron's abuses in Ecuador and elsewhere, and ultimately force Chevron to do something about them.

See ChevronThinksWereStupid.org for an archive of amazing posters submitted by users in response to our contest call. Below are three of the original ones.

Selected press:

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New York's favorite tabloid got a face-lift of sorts one day before the city hosted a major UN summit on climate change. Distributed by over 2000 volunteers throughout New York City, an eco-conscious but otherwise pitch-perfect replica of the New York Post, created by a coalition of activists including the Yes Men, was handed out across the city as a wake-up call to action on climate change.


Although the 32-page Post is a fake, everything in it is 100% true, with all facts carefully checked by a team of editors and climate change experts. The cover story ("We're Screwed") reports the frightening conclusions of a blue-ribbon panel of scientists commissioned by the mayor's office to determine the potential effects of climate change on the City. That report was released in February, 2009, but received very little press at the time. Other lead articles describe the Pentagon's alarmed response to global warming ("Clear & Present Disaster"), the US government's sadly minuscule response to the crisis ("Congress Cops Out on Climate"), China's alternative energy program ("China's Green Leap Forward Overtakes US"), and how if the US doesn't quickly pass a strong climate bill, the crucial Copenhagen climate talks in December could be a "Flopenhagen."



The paper made its debut on the same week that Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon was to push 100 world leaders to make serious commitments to reduce carbon emissions in the lead-up to the Copenhagen climate conference in December, 2009. Ban has said that the world has "less than 10 years to halt (the) global rise in greenhouse gas emissions if we are to avoid catastrophic consequences for people and the planet," adding that Copenhagen is a "once-in-a-generation opportunity." [More on that, and how it was squandered, later.]


The real Post, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., was not amused. More coverage here.


photo by Nate "Igor" Smith @DrivenByBoredom

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