Posts Tagged ‘Yes Men’

USA: “YES MEN” lüften den Vorhang

Donnerstag, April 14th, 2011

“Yes Men, US Uncut Behind GE Hoax

By Allison Kilkenny

The Yes Men, a culture-jamming activist duo, and the anti-tax dodging group US Uncut[1] were the players behind a widely circulated (and false) AP report[2] stating GE would be returning its entire 2010 tax refund of $3.2 billion to the U.S. Treasury.

The groups told ABC News they are forced to impersonate public figures and companies in order to break into a media space that is oversaturated with the loudest voices and those with the best public relations departments.

"Corporations spend billions of dollars a year shoving lies down that pipeline, so we have to impersonate them just to get information out," Yes Men spokesman Michael Bonanno told ABC News. "Our lies are designed to be recognized as lies almost instantly. But we have to impersonate these companies that already have a voice to say something, otherwise nobody would listen."

US Uncut followed up the publishing of the AP story by posting a press released titled, “US Uncut Welcomes GE’s Change of Heart[3],” complete with a fabricated interview with US Uncut spokesman Carl Gibson.

And while the prank might have disappointed activists eager to see a corporation that paid no federal income taxes while raking in $14 billion in worldwide profits last year finally pay its fair share, the false report did have a dramatic effect on GE’s stocks. The “tiny guerilla team” managed to knock $3.5 billion[4] off GE’s market value in a matter of hours. "Obviously, GE can’t possibly be expected to do the right thing voluntarily; their stock would keep plunging," says Gibson. "That’s why we must change the law."

This certainly isn’t the first time the media has been hoodwinked by the Yes Men. The group has performed other “identity correction” stunts such as Andy Bichlbaum’s legendary appearance as “Jude Finisterra,” a Dow Chemical spokesman, during a 2004 BBC World appearance in which he announced that Dow planned to liquidate Union Carbide, the company responsible for the chemical disaster in Bhopal, and use the resulting $12 billion to pay for medical care and clean up.

And again in 2009, the group staged a news conference to falsely announce that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce[5] had reversed its stance on climate change legislation.

The idea behind the Yes Men’s activism, of course, isn’t to raise the hopes of victims only to crush their spirits in the last hour. The real purpose is to force companies like GE to defend their wildly unethical behavior, which GE ultimately did today. Deirdre Latour, a GE spokeswoman, said, “It’s a hoax and GE did not receive a refund,” a statement that conflicts with reports GE did indeed claim a tax benefit[6] of $3.2 billion.

The lesson here is that if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably the work of the Yes Men. “

Links:
[1] http://usuncut.org
[2] http://abcnews.go.com/US/associated-press-reports-ge-tax-refund-hoax-us-uncut-yes-men/story?id=13367623
[3] http://usuncut.org/blog/us-uncut-welcomes-ges-change-of-heart
[4] http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ge-shareholders-not-laughing-2011-04-13?link=MW_latest_news
[5] http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/ge-facing-criticism-over-how-much-tax-it-pays-says-it-will-donate-its-entire-refund/2011/04/13/AFHB2qVD_story.html
[6] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/business/economy/25tax.html

 

(Quelle: The Nation.)

USA: Öl-Konzern Chevron startet neue Image-Kampagne

Donnerstag, Oktober 28th, 2010

Der US-Ölkonzern Chevron versucht sich dieser Tage mittels einer millionenschweren PR-Kampagne (“We agree”) ein neues, umwelt- und menschenfreundliches Image zu geben. Wohl auch, um so seine Aktivitäten in Ecuador vergessen zu machen:

 
 

 
 

Neben zahlreichen Umweltorganisationen erheben dagegen jetzt auch die Yes Men ihre Stimme. Ihre Strategie lautet Aufklärung und – Satire.

 
 
chevron.jpg
 
 

(Quelle: Chevron Thinks We’re Stupid.)

Haiti: Frankreich zahlt (nicht) Entschädigung für Kolonialverbrechen

Freitag, Juli 16th, 2010

“France (Not) to Repay Debt to Haiti

A prank website is bringing France’s colonial crimes into the spotlight

by Brooke Jarvis

Yesterday was Bastille Day, the day that France celebrates liberty, equality, and fraternity, the famous ideals of the French Revolution. In the spirit of the day, a statement claiming to be from France’s foreign ministry announced that France would repay its former colony, Haiti, for the millions of francs it was charged to compensate the colonial power for the slaves it lost when Haiti achieved its independence.


In a video displayed on the spoof website, a spokesperson claiming to be from the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs announces that France will repay Haiti the € 17 billion “Independence Debt.”

It turns out that the statement is a fake. But it could have been true—at least, that was the implicit message of the news release, which appeared on a website designed to look like that of the French foreign ministry. The release, purported to be from the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign and European affairs, framed the decision as a bold and principled move and a way for France “to celebrate the cherished values of our republic.” It promised that “the 90 million gold francs, which Haiti paid France from 1825 until 1947, will be reimbursed in a yearly budget over the course of 50 years. Economic advisors working with the Ministry have calculated that the total sum amounts to € 17 billion including adjustments for inflation and a minimal interest rate of 5 percent per annum.”

Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January, France, Haiti’s former colonizer, was quick to lead the call for developed nations to forgive Haiti’s debt from past loans. Yet it made no mention of its own role in the creation of that debt.

While the fake news release—a common tactic of the prankster activists the Yes Men, but not yet traced to a particular group—doesn’t seem to have fooled any major news outlets, it did bring the debt (and its contradiction with France’s public stance) into the spotlight. The Foreign Ministry has responded by vehemently denying the release and is reported to be considering legal action.



Pranksters Fixing the World.
An interview with Andy Bichlbaum, one of The Yes Men, an infamously daring and creative duo of anti-corporate pranksters.

Years after Haiti achieved freedom from France—in a dramatic slave uprising that defeated Napoleon in 1804—France threatened to re-invade and demanded to be paid for the slaves it had lost. Though the payment was eventually reduced from 150 million francs to 60 million, it was still much more than the new nation could afford. Haiti took out loans from other creditors, including the United States and Germany, and finally paid off the reparations debt (plus interest) in 1947.

But for Haiti, spending more than its first century of existence in extreme debt was devastating. By 1900, 80 percent of Haiti’s national budget was being spent on servicing the French debt, according to historian Alex von Tunzelmann, who wrote that the so-called Independence Debt “did not signify the beginning of freedom, but the end of hope,” trapping Haiti in a debt spiral that has continued to the this day.

Many Haitians believe the debt they were forced to take on was illegal, and now think of it as France’s debt to them. In 2003, Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide sent France a bill for more than $21 billion. France has ignored the claim.

Still, as when the Yes Men briefly convinced the world that the Dow Chemical Company was planning to pay restitution to the victims of the Bhopal chemical explosion, or published a false edition of The New York Times with the headline, “Iraq War Ends,” this is the kind of news that captures headlines not because it’s true, but because there are so many people who wish that it were.


Brooke Jarvis wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Brooke is YES! Magazine’s web editor.

 

(Quelle: YES! Magazine.)

 

[Update:]

Haiti reparation hoax riles France: A statement