‘Yes Men’ at it Again

April 19, 2010

Underattended “Run for Water” plagued by death, zombies, and dozens of “Dow spokesmen”; truth seems to run free

Video: Yes Men video coming soon here; other video here
Stills: Yes Men pictures coming soon here; numerous others here
Contact: Whitney Black (803)466-3786; press@theyesmen.org

Brooklyn, NY — Bucolic Prospect park in Brooklyn, NY played host to a bizarre spectacle on Sunday, as a dramatically under-attended Dow-sponsored “Run for Water” was infiltrated and turned upside down by hundreds of furious activists, including a hundred dressed as Dow spokespeople.

New Yorkers who came to the park expecting a light run followed by a free concert found themselves unwitting extras in a macabre and chaotic scene as runners keeled over dead, Dow-branded grim reapers chased participants, and a hundred fake Dow representatives harangued other protesters and and handed out literature that explained Dow’s greenwashing program in frank detail.

The actions called attention to Dow’s toxic legacy in places like India (the Bhopal Catastrophe), Vietnam (Agent Orange) and Midland Michigan (Dioxin Contamination), and to the absurdity of a company with serious water issues all over the world sponsoring the Live Earth Run For Water.

After race cancellations in London, Milan, Berlin, and Sweden, on-site Dow brand managers were in damage-control mode. But their job was made harder by the hundred fake “Dow” spokespeople who loudly but clumsily proclaimed Dow’s position (“Our race! Our earth!” and “Run for water! Run for your life!”), spoke with many runners, screamed at the other protesters, passed out beautifully-produced literature, and all in all looked a whole lot better than the real Dow reps, who seemed eager to make themselves scarce.

“I don’t know what’s going on here,” said Tracey Von Sloop, a Queens woman who attended the race. “All I know is these people are both crazy, and Dow is f*ing sick. I’m outta here.”

The event was the latest blow to Dow’s greenwashing efforts, the most visible element of which is the “Human Element” multi-media advertising campaign, one of the most expensive, and successful, marketing efforts in recent history. It even won an “Effie Award” for the most effective corporate advertising campaign in North America.

"Effective," perhaps — but also completely misleading. To name just a few examples of Dow’s water-related issues: Dow refuses to clean up the groundwater in Bhopal, India, site of the largest industrial disaster in human history, committed by Dow’s fully-owned subsidiary, Union Carbide. As a result, children continue to be born there with debilitating birth defects. Dow has also dumped hundreds of millions of pounds of toxic chemical byproducts into wetlands of Louisiana, and has even poisoned its own backyard, leaving record levels of dioxins downriver from its global headquarters in Midland, Michigan.

“We thought it must be a joke when we first heard that Dow Chemical Company was sponsoring a run for clean water,” said Yes Woman Whitney Black. “Sadly, it was not. One of the world’s worst polluters trying to greenwash its image instead of taking responsibility for drinking water and ecosystems it has poisoned around the world? What an awfully unfunny way to start off Earth Week. We decided the event needed a little comic relief.”

Irony was piled on irony throughout the race, which Dow absurdly claimed was going to be “the largest solutions-based initiative aimed at solving the global water crisis in history. At one point, organizers were caught on tape dramatically throwing out excess water left over because of an embarrassingly low turnout.

Groups organizing the action included the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, New York Whale and Dolphin Action League, the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign, the Wetlands Activism Collective, Global Justice for Animals and the Environment, Kids For A Better Future, The Yes Men, and hundreds of assorted volunteers, activists and mischief makers.
[Thank you, Claudia!]

Climate Change and Blog Action Day

[Blog Action Day] Climate Change presupposes that there is some sort of change coming in the status quo of climate not-change. And to a large extent, that is the case. I studied a variety of subjects but mostly circled around the most recent 25,000 years of this planet’s history. Lots of climate change there in those 25 millennia.

One thing is certain, and that is that climate change means changes in our world. Big changes. My experience covers things like woodlands becoming grasslands, and deserts emerging where herds of animals once grazed. Coastlines changed drastically as ocean levels went down when much of the northern hemisphere was covered with as much as 3 kilometers of ice.

When the average temperature rose again, millions of square miles of coast where animals (and humans) doubtlessly lived were again submerged as all that ice melted into the world’s oceans.

Relatives of ours, Neanderthals, disappeared. Lots of very conspicuous animals — huge grazers like mammoth and mastodons, woolly rhinoceros, giant ground sloths, and the predators that were dependent on them like saber-tooth cats, dire wolves, other cats and canine relatives — became extinct.

This particular episode will likely be unsurpassed since any in the last 7,000 years. It will be interesting, but not in a good way. More like the Chinese proverb, “May you live in interesting times.”

Perhaps we will go extinct…

An Open Letter to My Senator, the Honorable Harry Reid

Mr. Reid,

The Democratic caucus in the Senate now has *60* votes with the seating of Al Franken (D-Mn). That’s the mythical filibuster-proof majority. Let’s get something done now. When the other party was in a similar position, they do not seem to have hesitated to use that majority to enact legislation that did not seem especially bi-partisan.

Our country is in a economic crisis, we need new usury laws, single-payer health care, the approval of a Supreme Court nominee, funds to close Guantanamo, strong environmental laws and regulations, a myriad of other things, and essentially a return of the the ‘commons.’

It is now time to act, Mr. Reid. The Progressives and Democrats of America are watching.

Thank you for your time,
Hal B. Rager

BLM Will Not Lease Drilling Parcels Near Arches, Canyonlands

Mostly good news…

BLM Will Not Lease Drilling Parcels Near Arches, Canyonlands: In the face of
intense opposition from the National Park Service, members of Congress and a top
official from President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, the U.S. Bureau of
Land Management backed down Tuesday from its plan to sell oil and gas leases
near national parks and wilderness-quality areas in Utah on Dec. 19.
[1] http://www.sltrib.com/outdoors/ci_11072818
[2] http://www.cdarc.org/page/5erd
[Southwest Archaeology Making the News – A Service of the Center for Desert
Southwest Archaeology Today is a service provided by the Center for Desert
Archaeology to provide current news about topics in archaeology, history and
historic preservation in the American Southwest and Mexican Northwest.
Back issues of Southwest Archaeology Today are available at:

But if only 22 out of “more than 90” ‘sensitive’ leases were affected, what about the other 68+ leases you ask?

“It’s still a disaster in the making,” said Steve Bloch, an attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “Parcels [that Park Service officials] said were important are still on [the sale list]. That seems a pretty clear indication the Park Service was rolled by someone higher up in the administration.” [1]

Predictably, Mike Snyder, director of NPS’ Intermountain region said they were not “rolled.”

Snyder denied Bloch’s claim. “We got no pressure from the administration. None,” he said. “I got support to do what was best for the parks.” [1]

And if you believe that, I’ve got some property outside of Las Vegas you might be interested in…

House Democrats Will Allow Offshore Drilling Ban to Expire [CNN]

House Democrats Again Fail to Grow a Pair. Film at 11.

House Democrats Will Allow Offshore Drilling Ban to Expire [CNN]

After months of high-pitched battles with Republicans over the issue of offshore drilling, House Democrats have given in and decided to allow a 26-year ban on drilling to expire at the end of the month.
A $600 billion funding bill won’t include any language on offshore drilling, effectively lifting the ban on October 1.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wisconsin, told reporters Tuesday that a massive $600 billion stopgap funding bill slated for a House vote on Wednesday will not include any language on drilling, effectively lifting the ban on October 1.

Democrats pushed to add a proposal passed in the House of Representatives last week to open up areas at least 50 miles offshore to drilling if states agree, but the White House objected.

“So that will mean … this next election will decide what our drilling policy will be because there will be no language in this bill on that subject, and as you know that means that at least temporarily the moratorium is lifted,” Obey said. [more]

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