Tag Archives: yes men

MASSIVE LEAK REVEALS CRIMINALITY, PARANOIA AMONG CORPORATE TITANS

Blog post courtesy: The Yes Men

Dow pays “strategic intelligence” firm to spy on Yes Men and grassroots activists. Takeaway: movement is on the right track!

WikiLeaks begins to publish today over five million e-mails obtained by Anonymous from “global intelligence” company Stratfor. The emails, which reveal everything from sinister spy tactics to an insider trading scheme with Goldman Sachs (see below), also include several discussions of the Yes Men and Bhopal activists. (Bhopal activists seek redress for the 1984 Dow Chemical/Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India, that led to thousands of deaths, injuries in more than half a million people, and lasting environmental damage.)

Many of the Bhopal-related emails, addressed from Stratfor to Dow and Union Carbide public relations directors, reveal concern that, in the lead-up to the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, the Bhopal issue might be expanded into an effective systemic critique of corporate rule, and speculate at length about why this hasn’t yet happened—providing a fascinating window onto what at least some corporate types fear most from activists.

“[Bhopal activists] have made a slight nod toward expanded activity, but never followed through on it—the idea of ‘other Bhopals’ that were the fault of Dow or others,” mused Joseph de Feo, who is listed in one online source as a “Briefer” for Stratfor.

“Maybe the Yes Men were the pinnacle. They made an argument in their way on their terms—that this is a corporate problem and a part of the a [sic] larger whole,” wrote Kathleen Morson, Stratfor’s Director of Policy Analysis.

“With less than a month to go [until the 25th anniversary], you’d think that the major players—especially Amnesty—would have branched out from Bhopal to make a broader set of issues. I don’t see any evidence of it,” wrote Bart Mongoven, Stratfor’s Vice President, in November 2004. “If they can’t manage to use the 25th anniversary to broaden the issue, they probably won’t be able to.”

Mongoven even speculates on coordination between various activist campaigns that had nothing to do with each other. “TheChevron campaign [in Ecuador] is remarkably similar [to the Dow campaign] in its unrealistic demand. Is it a follow up or an admission that the first thrust failed? Am I missing a node of activity or a major campaign that is to come? Has the Dow campaign been more successful than I think?” It’s almost as if Mongoven assumes the two campaigns were directed from the same central activist headquarters.

Just as Wall Street has at times let slip their fear of the Occupy Wall Street movement, these leaks seem to show that corporate power is most afraid of whatever reveals “the larger whole” and “broader issues,” i.e. whatever brings systemic criminal behavior to light. “Systemic critique could lead to policy changes that would challenge corporate power and profits in a really major way,” noted Joseph Huff-Hannon, recently-promoted Director of Policy Analysis for the Yes Lab.

Among the millions of other leaked Stratfor emails are some that reveal dubious financial practices, including an apparent insider trading scheme with Goldman Sachs Managing Director Shea Morenz, who joined Stratfor’s board of directors and invested “substantially” more than $4 million in the scheme, called StratCap. “What StratCap will do is use our Stratfor’s intelligence and analysis to trade in a range of geopolitical instruments,” wrote Stratfor CEO George Friedman in September 2011. StratCap was designed through a complex offshore share structure to appear legally independent, but Friedman assured Stratfor staff otherwise: “Do not think of StratCap as an outside organisation. It will be integral… It will be useful to you… We are already working on mock portfolios and trades.” (StratCap has been due to launch in 2012, though that could now change.)

Other emails show Stratfor techniques of a truly creepy Spy vs. Spy sort: “[Y]ou have to take control of him. Control means financial, sexual or psychological control,” wrote CEO Friedman recently to an employee, Reva Bhalla, on how to exploit an Israeli intelligence informant providing information on Chavez’s cancer. (Stratfor’s “confidential intelligence services” clients include, besides Dow and Union Carbide, the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines, the US Defense Intelligence Agency, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon.)

Perhaps most entertainingly of all, the email trove reveals that Stratfor’s “Confederation Partners”—an unethical alliance between Stratfor and a number of mainstream journalists—are referred to informally within Stratfor as its “Confed Fuck House.” (Another discovery: Coca Cola was spying on PETA. More such gems are sure to surface as operatives sift through the 5.5 million emails.)

A number of the remaining Yes Men-related emails take the form of reports on public appearances by the Yes Men, such as one that describes one audience comprised of “art students on class assignments and free entertainment.” Another notes that “The Yes Men tweeted about the US Chamber of Commerce ‘plotting forged emails, documents to trick (AND smear) opponents,'” a reference to an apparent plot to discredit Chamber opponents using forged documents, as revealed when thousands of emails were recently leaked by Anonymous from cyber-security firm HB Gary. Yet another discusses Alessio Rastani, the Wall Street traderwidely mistaken for Yes Man Andy Bichlbaum, who proclaimed, live on the BBC, that “governments don’t rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world.”

“Rastani was right,” said the real Andy Bichlbaum five months later. “But it’s now very clear that it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.”

The Yes Men and representatives from the Bhopal Medical Appeal will join Julian Assange of Wikileaks at a press conference at noon today, Feb. 27, at the Frontline Club in London.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Humor, Political Repression

Enbridge Hair Hoax Exposed

Cross-posted from the Yes Men

Group responsible offered free haircuts at Enbridge HQ

On Tuesday, the world learned of oil transport giant Enbridge’s strategy for handling inevitable oil spills along its proposed pipeline through pristine British Columbian wilderness: mop it up with human hair.

The cockamamie “MyHairCares” hoax, dreamed up by former oil workers and involving outreach to over 1000 hair salons, was promoted in a slick Video News Release and involved a flurry of conflicting press releases. The original story ran in a number of major news outlets (archive will be posted shortly here), but was pulled with no retraction or explanation after a terse denial by Enbridge that seemed to miss the point entirely. (For a longer, better denial, written on behalf of Enbridge by the pranksters, click here.)

“This was a funny way to dramatize the fact that neither Enbridge nor any other oil company can prevent spills, and that they basically have no cleanup plan,” said Shannon McPhail, a former Canadian oil worker and Canadian spokesperson for People Enbridge Ruined in Michigan (PERM), the group responsible for MyHairCares. “What’s happening in Michigan proves that.”

Between 1999 and 2008 Enbridge recorded an average of more than one oil spill every week. Just last summer, an Enbridge pipeline spilled more than 800,000 gallons of oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. Enbridge is expected to face federal criminal charges for neglecting to maintain that pipeline; they are also accused of merely covering up, not actually cleaning up the oil. Further, a joint investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and CBS News found that Enbridge was coercing Kalamazoo spill victims into signing liability waiver forms. “Enbridge is manipulating and exploiting people who trust the company to do the right thing,” said former US Congressman Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., Chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

“We don’t want Canadian rivers or coastlines to end up like the oily mess that Enbridge has left in a number of places around here,” said US PERM spokesperson Rick Smith.

“In the U.S. Enbridge failed to maintain their pipeline, failed to clean up their mess, and are exploiting the victims,” said McPhail. “It would be madness to let them build a pipeline in Canada, especially through one of our planet’s last great wildernesses.”

Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline would cut across the Rocky Mountains, the pristine Great Bear rain forest, and over 1,000 streams and rivers. The pipeline would carry 700,000 barrels a day of petroleum products across 1,170 kilometres between Alberta’s Tar Sands and the Pacific Coast, where supertankers would carry the crude though the treacherous Douglas Channel—an area in which currents render conventional oil containment booms useless.

“A major spill on the coast or in a river would be devastating and irreversible,” said McPhail. “Canada must not trade in our wilderness just to make some foreign oil companies rich.”

One salon owner contacted after the ruse lauded the activists’ approach to getting the media to pay attention to one of the most pressing environmental issues in North America. “I wasn’t tricked, I was educated,” said Brian Phillips, owner of World Salon in Toronto. “I had no idea what the people in Michigan were going through with Enbridge. We shouldn’t invite that treatment here in Canada.”

People Enbridge Ruined In Michigan (PERM) cooked up the “My Hair Cares” action with guidance from The Yes Men, as part of the Yes Lab for Creative Activism. On Wednesday, Canadian members of PERM introduced themselves to the public during a noon press conference in front of Enbridge’s Vancouver offices. Free haircuts were available for all, and all clippings collected then (as well as any clippings mailed in by salons) will be donated to Michigan PERM members still struggling to clean up Enbridge’s mess in their community.

“Enbridge spends millions trying to convince people there’s no problem,” noted McPhail. “We had to be a bit clever to compete with that.”

The advertisement from Wednesday:

FREE HAIRCUTS: 12 noon PST, 505 Burrard St., Vancouver, CA

VIDEO DOWNLOAD: www.MyHairCares.com

CONTACTS:

Shannon McPhail (Smithers, BC), Canadian PERM spokesperson, 250-842-2494, shannon@kispioxriver.com

Rick Smith (Michigan), US PERM spokesperson: 269-425-1822, permkzoo@gmail.com

Sean Devlin (Vancouver) , The Yes Lab: 778.321.7306, sean@yeslab.org

Leave a Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest