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By Andy Bichlbaum on Oct 23 2011 - 12:00am Tagged: Project: Occupy Wall Street actions

This morning, two members of the Yes Lab brought a dozen thrift-store suits to Zuccotti Park and asked for volunteers. Then, within earshot of the police, the group made a human microphone announcement about a "highly risky, very arrestable" action. Then, together with a brand-new police escort, the group headed towards the Wall Street Bull chanting "Castrate the bull!" and other angry slogans. More police joined.

Finally, the "brokers" reversed the empty pizza boxes they were holding and held them up to reveal their message for the two dozen photographers present: "POLICE AND BROKERS FOR THE OCCUPATION." At least a few of the photos were shared on Facebook thousands of times, and one appeared in a Long Island tabloid, without any comment, to illustrate an article about police overtime. (Click for high-resolution.)

 

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Oct 17 2011 - 9:35am Tagged: Project: Occupy Wall Street actions

A couple of the results from the BFF tumblr:

If you like the Yes Men’s corporate crime-fighting mischief, it’s now time to spring into action yourself—by becoming Best Friends Forever (BFFs) with the 1% who have wrecked the economy and left us with the bill.

Visit www.occupytheboardroom.org to find hundreds of available 1%ers today; then figure out how to reach them. The idea is to reveal, through hilarious action (like that phone call to Gov. Walker, for instance), something about your new 1% BFF and their nasty, people-destructive practices.

There are many ways to do this. There’s the telephone, of course, and there's email. Or how about giving them an award, or paying them a visit in costume? For more suggestions, go pick your new BFF now! Whatever you do, make it revealing, nonviolent, and funny; document it well, and email images, video, audio or text to bff@occupytheboardroom.org. The funniest interactions, that reveal the most about the 1% (or just your particular BFF), will win prizes.

This isn’t easy to do—but then neither is sleeping out in the rain, let alone digging ourselves out of the mess that the 1% have created.

This is a big project by a whole bunch of people who can’t wait to see what you come up with!

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Oct 12 2011 - 1:40pm Tagged:

(From the Yes Men's acceptance speech for the Art of Activism award given them at RAN's annual fundraising dinner.)

It's nice to be here among the 1%. And it's really nice to know that even the 1% has a 99%.

One year ago, Ginger Cassady from RAN contacted us with some amazing news: RAN had been leaked the files for Chevron's upcoming multimillion-dollar rebranding campaign, which featured slogans like "Oil companies should get real... We agree!"

Ginger thought RAN could do better; we agreed. And shortly afterwards, we all started working on a much-improved version of Chevron's campaign. Ours would have slogans like "Oil companies should clean up their messes" and "Oil companies should stop endangering life," and would feature images of Chevron's massive destruction in Ecuador.

Two days later, we suddenly found out that Chevron's campaign was going to launch in just 12 hours. Thanks to the incredible team from RAN and AmazonWatch, we finished our version in just under 8. We launched it just ahead of Chevron's-—and totally ruined their launch. (To see just how much we ruined it, do a google image search today on "Chevron we agree.")

There are three lessons we've learned from this experience.

Lesson: Humor works

The first lesson is that we can laugh, and that funny actions have a real role in activist struggles today.

We knew this, of course, in part from talking with Serbian revolutionaries who told us that funny actions were critical in their struggle to overthrow Milosevic, and that the Egyptian activists' primary tool in bringing Mubarak down wasn't Twitter, but rather humor.

Here in the US, our own sudden revolution is a bit more complicated than Serbia's or Egypt's—it's not just a single tyrant we're bringing down, but, as with segregation, a whole unjust system we're changing. At the very least, our "we agree" campaign meant that millions of people learned of one more grisly symptom of this system, the same one greed run amok, and of the system the folks in the Occupy movement have set out to change forever.

Lesson: Victory happens

The second lesson we learned, much more important than that one, was that victory is possible.

Today, the perseverance of Chevron's victims, together with the longstanding assistance of RAN and AmazonWatch, is paying off. Chevron was recently ordered to pay $18 billion to clean up their mess in Ecuador, and all their appeals are failing. Chevron's assets will be seized, and there's not much Chevron can do to stop it.

Even getting this far is a really huge victory, and it shows—concretely, clearly, unambiguously—that a different world is possible, and that when the 99% decide something, the 1% can't do squat about it. We can vanquish Chevron, and we can vanquish the whole system of corruption that's holding democracy captive.

Lesson: Kick 'em in the balls

But the most important lesson we've learned from RAN's Chevron campaign is how corporations are vulnerable, and what actually works against them.

What works isn't trying to change corporations. What works isn't trying to appeal to their shareholders, or trying to inflict "brand damage." What works certainly isn't trying to appeal to the decency of people within corporations.

What works is what RAN and AmazonWatch, together with Chevron's victims, have done: kicking them in the proverbial balls. (And corporations are male, I'm afraid.)

Chevron hasn't agreed to anything, and they never will. Nor will the companies involved in the Tar Sands. Nor will the banks or any other part of the democracy-kidnapping system called Wall Street.

The only thing that can work to make corporations serve us, instead of the other way around, is real action—legal, legislative, and political.

Street action also works. Is it a coincidence that Obama is finally starting, now that America is being occupied, to act in some small ways as we elected him to? I don't think it is, any more than it's a coincidence that Chevron is now going to have to pony up billions.

That's an incredibly important lesson, and we'll always be grateful for it.

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Oct 4 2011 - 1:33pm Tagged:

This Wednesday's Revolutionaries Live! lecture with UK climate campaign activists John Stewart and Dan Glass has been postponed.

A few days ago, Stewart landed in JFK Airport for a month-long US speaking tour, only to be escorted off the plane by 6 police officers; interrogated for six hours by the FBI, Secret Service, NY police, and Immigration; and put on a plane back to the UK. The other tour member, environmental activist Dan Glass, was stopped by the CIA on the UK side.

Stewart and Glass are celebrated environmentalists who have won support from direct action activists and even Conservatives in the UK Parliament for successful efforts to reduce carbon emissions and stop the expansion of Heathrow airport. For some reason, however, our own government isn't keen on them coming here.

We're going to bring them to you anyway. Join us on Thursday, November 3rd for a special Skype session with these revered (and reviled?) climate revolutionaries. The best part: no transcontinental air emissions involved!

Thursday, November 3, 7pm
Department of Performance Studies
721 Broadway, 6th Floor
NY, NY 10003
(photo ID required)

And now that your Wednesday is freed up, consider joining us at OccupyWallStreet! Wednesday is the biggest action yet, with the Steelworkers, Transit Workers Union, United Federation of Teachers, Working Families Party, MoveOn.org, Rebuild the Dream, and countless economic justice and community organizations taking part in a massive march to the Liberty Plaza encampment. Starts at 4:30pm at City Hall, 250 Broadway Ave

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Sep 29 2011 - 2:21pm Tagged:

Quick alert about two really important projects that badly need funding:

1. The Occupy Wall Street Journal. The title speaks for itself. This newspaper will be printed in 50,000 copies and will spread all over New York City the news of what's happening right now in the heart of the world's financial capital. Help the movement grow! And if you're anywhere near New York and haven't been to Liberty Plaza, the experience is highly recommended as a treatment for most personal and societal ills.

2. Beautiful Trouble will be a collectively-written book and website that makes the best of creative activism available to all. It's already largely written, but needs a boost to finish and to develop the website. Read more here about what we think of this project, and click here to support it.

Also, a funny thing that happened accidentally yesterday: "Twitter was abuzz" with "evidence" that we'd created a fake evil trader. Not. He's not fake, doesn't even look like us, and—at least by comparison with the real deal—is hardly evil at all. Here's what we wrote about the whole surreal episode.

And if you're in New York, stop by tonight to hear two members of Otpor describe how they brought down Milosevic, and to offer suggestions on bringing down other forms of tyranny.

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Sep 27 2011 - 9:56am Tagged:

The Yes Men wish to commend Mr. "Alessio Rastani" for his masterful performance as "trader" on BBC World yesterday. Mr. Rastani's real name is Granwyth Hulatberi; he once appeared on CNBC MarketWrap as a "representative" of the WTO. Well done, Granwyth! You're getting better and better.

Just kidding. We've never heard of Rastani. Despite widespread speculation, he isn't a Yes Man. He's a real trader who is, for one reason or another, being more honest than usual. Who in big banking doesn't bet against the interests of the poor and find themselves massively recompensed—if not by the market, then by humongous taxpayer bailouts? Rastani's approach has been completely mainstream for several years now; we must thank him for putting a human face on it yesterday.

If you'd like to see the human face of the human perspective—the perspective of the 99% victimized by our demented and out-of-control financial system—come join the occupation of Wall Street. Michael Moore did so  last night, and pointed out that in America, it's just 400 people who own as much as most of the rest of us put together—and that when we decide we really want to change the rules of the game, those 400 people won't be able to do squat about it.

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Sep 21 2011 - 7:32pm Tagged:

Head to Liberty Plaza this Thursday at 8:30pm to hear Ivan Marovic!!

Midway through Ivan's 7pm talk this Thursday (RSVP's are closed, we're overbooked), we'll all take the R train a few stops down to Liberty Plaza and occupy Wall Street! There, around 8:30 or 9pm, Ivan will continue his talk for our very own here-and-now revolutionaries, who are doing some of the same things Ivan and his thousands of friends did to topple dictators from Milosevic to Mubarak!

And, of course, head to Liberty Plaza anytime you have a few free minutes, hours, or days to support these awesome folks!

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By Mike Bonanno on Sep 14 2011 - 8:51am Tagged: Project: Phone Story

An Android app of "Phone Story" was released this morning, less than a day after Apple pulled it from the iTunes store. By rejecting the app, Apple has made sure that this phone story isn't just about horrible labor conditions in the life-cycle of mobile phones, it's now also about censorship and the chilling effects Apple's policies have on content. There's a nice article on it, including interviews with the game developer Molleindustria, here in the Guardian.

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By Mike Bonanno on Sep 13 2011 - 1:09pm Tagged: Project: Phone Story

Hours after being publicized, after only 1000 downloads, the Phone Story app was removed from the iTunes store. There is some news about it... stay tuned for more!

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Sep 13 2011 - 6:31am Tagged: Project: Phone Story

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 13, 2011

iPhone App About Apple's Rotten Supply Chain Gets Past Censors
This and upcoming Yes Lab projects no hoax

Contact: info@molleindustria.it, michael.pineschi@gmail.com

To the great surprise of its creators, a funny new iPhone game critical of Apple's human rights record was accepted by the iTunes store and is being released today. The app, called Phone Story, teaches players about abuses in the life-cycle of the iPhone by putting them in the manufacturers' shoes. To win, players must enslave children in Congolese mines, catch suicidal workers jumping out of Chinese assembly plant windows, and conscript the poorest of the world's poor to dismantle toxic e-waste resulting from obsolete phones.

The seriously funny new game will sell for 99 cents on iTunes; all proceeds will go to organizations fighting to stop the horrors that smartphone production causes. Read more about Phone Story below. But first, a word from Phone Story's sponsors.

Yes Lab Fundraising Campaign a Shocking Success

Last week the Yes Lab sent you an appeal for support. We set aside forty days and forty nights to reach our goal on Kickstarter—but with your help we've gotten there in just five! (Note: if you haven't yet donated, don't let our success dissuade you! We'll use the extra money to fund more projects, and to develop tools and resources to help folks carry them out. And by the way, if you're a Drupal programmer and feel like helping to make those tools, please write to us!)

Since our fundraising appeal is doing so well, we're launching our very own curated page on Kickstarter, to support other cool projects—like Beautiful Trouble, an activism manual and website written by over forty troublemakers from around the world, including the Yes Men. Beautiful Trouble's goal is to put the best tactics for creative action in the hands of the next generation of change-makers. Support Beautiful Trouble!

So back to those phones....

Would you like to force an African child to mine for precious metals at gunpoint? "Phone Story," a new iPhone app produced by Molleindustria, puts the player in the unsavory shoes of a smartphone executive. Each level in the game explores a different real-life problem in the consumer electronics life cycle: slavery and abuse in Coltan mines, suicide-inducing manufacturing plants, and health-destroying e-waste processing are reduced to a cute, low-res aesthetic driven by simple, addictive game play. The game is available in the iTunes store for 99 cents.

"We wanted to get this story into the hands of consumers, on the shiny devices we love to use but are causing this depraved, destructive cycle," said game developers Paolo Pedercini and Michael Pineschi.

The site provides links to organizations with campaigns to hold phone makers accountable for their horrors, and 100% of proceeds go directly to such organizations.

Apple has a well-documented and controversial history of keeping apps that they don't agree with out of the hands of consumers, so it came as a big surprise to the creators when the iPhone store accepted this one. "If this simply slipped under their radar, we can't wait to see how they respond," said Pedercini. "If it's creative enough, we might have to build a whole other level."

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