The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

The Unsuitablog Archive

Posted by keith on January 4th, 2012

The Unsuitablog contains a huge range of posts from simple criticism to investigation to downright in-your-face sabotage. It also has heaps of advice on how to recognise and expose greenwash and the entire series of Monthly Undermining Tasks which helped the book Underminers become a reality.

To help with navigation through this web of information I have diligently categorised every item, which you can choose from by using the Categories list on the right. Headline items, including the Monthly Undermining Tasks and the Exposure series are on the left, and there is the Chronological Archive in full further down on the left.

For fun there is also a Subvertising Gallery (fully updated as of January 2012) which you are free to use under the terms of the Creative Commons License.

The Unsuitablog will now only be updated in the event of a major investigation of piece of news being made available. See the panel on the right if you have any such information.

Keith.

Posted in Unsuitablog News | No Comments »

The Unsuitablog: Winding Down and Winding Up

Posted by keith on January 4th, 2012

Four years, and it feels like it. It would take a book to tell the story of The Unsuitablog: all the work that has gone into it; the sleepless nights wondering whether a stunt would come off or what the repercussions of an exposure would be; the arm-aching pixel manipulation in creating the hundreds of subvertising images for this and other websites; the underhand phone calls and trick emails; the constant niggle of whether any of this was worth the effort at all. I think it was worth it. Certainly a book is near completion, not quite the story of The Unsuitablog, but something most definitely inspired by it.

Underminers is perhaps the culmination of this four-year project, and I have a certain faith – if that’s allowed – that readers of The Unsuitablog and those that take the time to read Underminers will go on to do great things, far beyond anything this blog has achieved. And, you know what, I’m not going to tell you what this blog has achieved: for a start, I have no way of telling whether anything that seems to have been inspired by it was the direct result of it, nor if anything else that may have just sown the seed in the mind of a reader led to something magnificent. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. Also, why the hell should I take credit for something done by someone else? I know what I have done, but that’s all the credit I should take. Anything else is the domain of the person or persons who carried out those magnificent acts: they should take the credit.

And now it is time to wind down The Unsuitablog, at least unless it is needed again. Maybe wind down is wrong: I suspect “wind up” is more appropriate, for with its stasis remains an archive that can be used for as long as this site exists by anyone who wishes to do things that might make a difference. If anything has given me joy from this project, it has been the knowledge that the mere presence of this blog and many of the acts recorded in it, have truly wound up the establishment, the corporate system, and those people that pretend to make things better when they are just perpetuating the horror that continues – the horror that we must prevent. So, wind ‘em up, and take the piss – in the darkest of times, a smile and a burst of sarcasm can undermine even the most immovable of obstacles.

Keith Farnish
January 4, 2012.

Posted in Advice, Unsuitablog News | No Comments »

You’re Not Taking “Radical” Away From Us, Bill!

Posted by keith on December 6th, 2011

On Monday 5th December, 2011, Bill McKibben, author and figurehead-leader of 350.org wrote the following in the Daily Kos:

You think OWS is radical? You think 350.org was radical for helping organize mass civil disobedience in DC in August against the Keystone Pipeline? We’re not radical. Radicals work for oil companies. The CEO of Exxon gets up every morning and goes to work changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere. No one has ever done anything as radical as that, not in all of human history.

Bill McKibben is wrong, in almost every way possible…almost. The following phrase is entirely correct:

We’re [350.org] not radical.

Correct, 350.org are a mainstream, symbolic protest group. Some of the supporters may be radical, but not the organisation.

The following phrase is correct, but not exclusively, and not at all in the way Bill claims:

Radicals work for oil companies.

The reason this phrase is correct is because genuine radicals exist in every walk of life, whether in oil companies, government, retail, social care, community work…anywhere there are people then there are potential radicals. Bill McKibben would like this not to be true, because Bill McKibben until very recently thought that he was a radical. In an interview with The Ecologist in July 2009, he said the following:

Do I think that Copenhagen will produce an agreement that gets us back to 350 anytime soon? No. It’s too radical a target for the political world at the moment. But getting it out there will move that process further in the direction of science. We are well behind the curve now and catching up is going to be extremely difficult. With 350 at least we know where the curve is. It’s arguably the most important number in the world. It sets a boundary condition for our civilisation to work.

Over the last 2 or 3 years, Bill McKibben has defined his work around the number 350, a number he considers to be too radical for the “political world” (whatever that is) and presumably for the oil companies that he has now accused of being radical. This is cock-eyed to say the least, but more than this it is deeply offensive to the people who consider themselves to be genuine radicals for two reasons. First, to compare the oil industry in semantic terms to the people who work on the very edges of society, taking huge risks and carrying out things in the name of a living planet that few (civilized) people would even dream of doing, is abhorrant. Organisations such as WWF, Live Earth and CAN International, which are counted among 350.org’s partners, are far closer to the corporate-industrial mindset, then they are to the genuine radical activists who are trying to undermine the industrial system that is killing the planet.

Second, Bill is attempting to redefine what the word “radical” means in the context of environmental action and consciousness. You cannot distance a word from its context: if I take a shit then that’s simply what I am doing; if I accuse someone of being a total shit then it’s another word entirely. The context in which Bill McKibben is speaking is that of combating civilized (“anthropogenic” is incorrect) climate change, and the word “radical” has close connotations – positive and negative, depending on your viewpoint – with the people who are taking a stand way beyond that of the mainstream paradigm that 350.org and their ilk occupy. Like the corporate hijacking of the word “green”, any attempt to hijack the word “radical” from those that pride themselves in its meaning is unacceptable and counterproductive.

Or maybe it’s not counterproductive, as far as Bill McKibben is concerned. Maybe he has started to realise that 350 is the wrong number, and that no amount of symbolic, pandering to politics “action” will make the blindest bit of difference to the state of the global ecology except perhaps make things a lot worse because we are so busy signing petitions and sitting on government building steps we have forgotten to think differently. Maybe he understands that the real radicals are right, and he is afraid to admit he is wrong.

Posted in Campaigns, Celebrity Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Symbolic Action | No Comments »

Strikes vs Royal Weddings

Posted by keith on November 26th, 2011

There is going to be a strike in Britain on Wednesday. The UK Government are condemning it. This is starting to appear all over Facebook:

When the government decide we can have a day off for the royal wedding it doesn’t damage the economy, but when the workers decide to strike for a day it costs the UK economy half a billion….

Is there something funny going on?

Quite.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy | No Comments »

WWF Denies Palm Oil is the Problem, then Counts the Cash

Posted by keith on November 23rd, 2011

It seems there is no depth to which the corporate world’s own favourite NGO, WWF, will not sink. An article in this week’s Guardian was happy to give WWF some free publicity, implying that the group actually give a stuff about the wildlife they were apparently set up to protect (or simply to ensure there is enough to shoot, as some sources suggest). The Palm Oil industry is growing month on month as new swathes of rainforest and other critical habitat are razed to the ground. According to Rainforest Action Network:

Approximately 85 percent of palm oil is grown in the tropical countries of Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) on industrial plantations[3] that have severe impacts on the environment, forest peoples and the climate.

The Indonesian government has announced plans to convert approximately 18 million more hectares of rainforests, an area the size of Missouri, into palm oil plantations by 2020

This is just on current growth in demand, but just you wait what happens when conventional oil supplies start drying up and biofuel demand starts shooting through the roof. No more rainforests.

So, what do WWF think of the palm oil situation?

Palm oil itself is not the issue,” [Adam] Harrison [of WWF] noted. “The problem is how and where palm oil is produced.

Oh, I see. What he is saying is that we can have as much palm oil as we like so long as it’s produced in the right way. Let’s put that into context by quoting from the article some more:

The WWF’s Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard, published on Tuesday, rates 132 mainly European companies, 29 of which received full marks, including 15 from UK such as Cadbury, Boots and Waitrose. No company achieved that level in the last scorecard report in 2009. At the bottom of the 2011 list are big retailers like Aldi, Lidl and Edeka from Germany, who refused to answer any questions about their palm oil policies.

“In the UK in particular we see progress,” said Adam Harrison, palm oil expert at WWF UK. “Due to several campaigns highlighting the damage caused by the rapid spread of palm plantations, companies see they are under pressure and respond.”

But he added: “Although there has been some progress on sustainable palm oil, new commitments are simply not translating fast enough into increased use of certified sustainable palm oil.” The report gives Unilever, the world’s biggest buyer of palm oil, 8 out of a possible 9.

Some companies bad, some companies good, apparently. Unilever are are the world’s largest processors of palm oil, so that should instantly put them near the front of the queue for criticism, after all if the companies didn’t put palm oil into their products then it wouldn’t be used, as was the case as little as 10 years ago when “vegetable oil” meant all sorts of different oils that invariably didn’t contribute to the removal of vast areas of rainforest. So how do WWF justify giving a company like Unilever such a brilliant score?

The Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard 2011 measures the performance of more than 130
major retailers and consumer goods manufacturers against four areas which WWF
believes show whether or not these companies are acting responsibly in terms of palm
oil use and sourcing:

• Being an active member of the RSPO;
• Making a public commitment to RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil;
• Disclosing how much palm oil they use;
• Showing how much of the palm oil they use is CSPO or is supporting sustainable production.

Let’s break that down a bit:

Being an active member of the RSPO;

The RSPO were founded by a band of palm oil growers, processing giants and WWF. According to WWF’s definition of “sustainable palm oil” the RSPO is the only organisation that has any credence; just like with “sustainable” timber WWF ignores, and positively campaigns against, any certifier other than FSC. WWF’s investment arm is raking in billions of dollars (I have been told this could be in the range of $60 billion for just one standards-based scheme in the Amazon) from the various schemes it oversees and then takes a cut from. The RSPO is just another such scheme: if WWF can convince everyone that this burgeoning market can be made “sustainable” then the potential from their founder member status for making money is enormous.

Making a public commitment to RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil;

The public commitment, along with the branding on products as strongly suggested by WWF, provides further credibility for this pork barrel scheme. No other certification counts, even if the palm oil was produced in an area that always contained oil palm.

Disclosing how much palm oil they use;

This serves to show the extent to which RSPO is cornering the palm oil market. Not just that, the relationship between RSPO members and WWF is a circular one; according to RSPO:

By joining the RSPO, organizations publicly communicate their commitment to sustainable palm oil production and use as well as to raise their reputation as a pro-active, solution-oriented and socially responsible organization. Ordinary Members have the right to vote at the General Assembly and can be elected to represent the relevant sector in the Executive Board by the category in question. They can have access to all materials produced by RSPO for its members, through the RSPO website and newsletter. Ordinary Members have a say in the development of criteria for sustainable palm oil production. They also have the opportunity to network with other companies in the palm oil value chain that share their values. By demonstrating their efforts towards sustainable palm oil, they can thereby improve their access to markets and investment sources.

Become a member, especially a large-scale member, and you can even change the meaning of the word “sustainable”. More importantly, you have access to all that filthy lucre. WWF, of course, get a cut of that filthy lucre.

Showing how much of the palm oil they use is CSPO or is supporting sustainable production.

CSPO means Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (a.k.a. RSPO Certified Palm Oil). Simply put, the more RSPO palm oil you use, the better your score. No matter that the members of the RSPO can manipulate the certification to suit the industry and it is in WWF’s interest to keep the biggest members on the table to ensure the RSPO monopoly is retained. As reported by Rebecca Zhou:

WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Manager Lydia Gaskell says that companies wanting to be certified are given action plans and targets according to ‘the size of the company and how sustainable they are.’

“To take a company off certification for failing to meet standards and criteria is at the very least, impractical,” said Gaskell. “There would be no need for the RSPO if everyone was meeting those principles and standards from day one.”

What really shouts out, though, is the text from WWF’s own report, which demonstrates in black and white how much value they really give to a sustainable future as compared to one in which industry holds sway over everything. They do not not recommend stopping the industrial use of palm oil; instead they look forward to a thriving palm oil future. I recommend a strong stomach if you are to read the following slice of corporate-friendly PR (the emphasis of doublespeak and greenwash is mine) – after which I feel only 5 more words are necessary:

Oil palm yields more oil per hectare of land than any other crop in the world. That is one of the reasons why palm oil makes up more or less a third of the 151 million tonnes of vegetable oil produced worldwide. Its wide availability and low price combined with certain unique characteristics means that it is used in many packaged food and personal care products that line supermarket shelves. Ice cream, margarine, biscuits, cakes, breakfast cereals, soup stock cubes, snacks, ready meals, instant noodles, shampoos, soaps, lipsticks, candles and washing-up liquids—all of these items often contain palm oil that was produced in tropical countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

And palm oil is here to stay. Demand is expected to reach 77 million tonnes in 2050 to help feed the world’s growing population and the increased affluence of emerging economies like China and India. And its use may possibly grow even more if demand increases for palm oil as a biofuel.

The thriving palm oil industry also contributes significantly to the well-being of producer countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, and increasingly in the palm oil frontiers of Africa and Latin America. In these countries and regions, the palm oil sector can create employment that helps to lift rural people out of poverty.

Established brands such as ASDA , Carrefour, IKEA, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, that are relatively large users of palm oil (using tens of thousands of tonnes each year) have progressed very well. Medium-sized users such as Co-op Switzerland, Co-operative Group UK, ICA, Marks & Spencer, Migros, Royal Ahold and Waitrose, have also performed well in their size class. Among the small palm oil volume retailers, Axfood, The Body Shop and the Boots Group are ahead of the curve.

There is a second group of retailers that are at the start of their journey and that WWF expects to do better in future Scorecards. These include Casino, Coles Supermarkets, Delhaize Group, E.Leclerc, Kesko Food, Metcash Trading, REWE
Group, the SOK Group and Woolworths.

Unfortunately there is still a large number of companies that are not yet performing as well as they should, and certainly not as well as the Scorecard’s leading companies show is possible.

Disappointingly, 12 out of the 44 retailers scored have still not joined the RSPO, a very basic first step in taking responsibility for the palm oil they use.

…and benefiting WWF’s financial performance.

Posted in Astroturfs, Funding, NGO Hypocrisy, Sponsorship | No Comments »

Ready the Fire Extinguishers: The Coca-Cola Olympic Torch is Coming!

Posted by keith on November 10th, 2011

The Olympic torch relay does not have an auspicious history. The modern torch relay, as a symbol of local pride enmeshed in the Olympic ideal, was introduced in 1936 to herald the opening of the Berlin Olympics. It was nothing less than a propaganda exercise to show the world the superiority of Aryan athletes over the rest of the world:

It was planned with immense care by the Nazi leadership to project the image of the Third Reich as a modern, economically dynamic state with growing international influence.

The organiser of the 1936 Olympics, Carl Diem, wanted an event linking the modern Olympics to the ancient. The idea chimed perfectly with the Nazi belief that classical Greece was an Aryan forerunner of the modern German Reich, and the event blended perfectly the perversion of history with publicity for contemporary German power.

The first torch was lit in Greece with the help of mirrors made by the German company Zeiss. Steel-clad magnesium torches to carry the flame were specially produced by the Ruhr-based industrial giant Krupp.

Media coverage was masterminded by Nazi propaganda chief Josef Goebbels, using the latest techniques and technology. Dramatic regular radio coverage of the torch’s progress kept up the excitement, and Leni Riefenstahl filmed it to create powerful images.

Coca-Cola were there, a friend of Nazi Germany, as a major sponsor proud of its associations with the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and seemingly proud of it’s links with National Socialism and the Third Reich (Coca-Cola Gmbh remained producing throughout World War Two, and even invented a new drink – Fanta – when Coke syrup became unavailable). In 1925 the Coca-Cola Corporation, perhaps naively, produced a watch fob in the shape of a Swastika to represent “good luck”. It has since come to represent something far more sinister; as has the name of Coca-Cola.

The website “Killer Coke” has highlighted some of the abuses carried out by, or in the name of, Coca-Cola over the last few years. The 1936 shame of Coca-Cola’s association with the Nazi regime is no distant, shameful memory; it is kept alive and kicking by the corporation’s continued activities:

Colombia and Guatemala

According to “The Coke Machine,” by Michael Blanding, published in September 2010, “…the union members do look to the lawsuit and the Killer Coke Campaign as the reason they are still alive.”

Some find it unbelievable that human rights abuses — systematic intimidation, kidnapping, torture and murder — are occurring at Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia. But it’s not the first time Coke has committed such atrocities.

In a 1987 booklet, “Soft Drink, Hard Labour,” the Latin America Bureau in London said:

“For nine years the 450 workers at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Guatemala City fought a battle for their jobs, their trade union and their lives. Three times they occupied the plant — on the last occasion for 13 months. Three General Secretaries of their union were murdered and five other workers killed. Four more were kidnapped and have disappeared. Against all the odds they survived, thanks to their own extraordinary courage and help from fellow trade unionists in Guatemala and around the world.

“A huge international campaign of protests and boycotts was central to their struggle. As a result, the Coca-Cola workers forced concessions from one of the world’s largest multinational food giants and kept the Guatemalan trade union movement alive through a dark age of government repression.”

The kind of violence directed against labor leaders at Coca-Cola bottling plant in Guatemala City in the ’70s and ’80s has been happening at Coke bottling plants in Colombia over the past couple of decades and unfortunately is being repeated again in Guatemala.

Turkey

In Turkey, in 2005, 105 workers at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Istanbul joined a union and were terminated. They organized a lengthy sit-down strike in front of the main offices of Coca-Cola in Turkey. After several weeks of protesting, Coca-Cola workers entered the building to demand their reinstatement. While leaders of the workers were meeting with senior management for the company, the company ordered Turkish riot police to attack the workers who were by all accounts peacefully assembled, many with their spouses and children. Nearly two hundred of them were beaten badly and many required hospitalization. Lawsuits are pending.

El Salvador

In addition to abuse of workers, Coke has been involved in the exploitation of children by benefiting from hazardous child labor in sugar cane fields in El Salvador. This was first documented by Human Rights Watch in 2004 and in footage taken in 2007 for a nationally-televised British documentary and highlighted in Mark Thomas’s book “Belching Out the Devil: Global Adventures with Coca-Cola,” published in 2009 in the U.S.

Representatives of the International Labor Organization interviewed company representatives at Colombian Coca-Cola bottling plants in 2008 to ascertain whether they exercised any control of suppliers of raw materials (such as sugar) to ensure that they did not use child labor. The manager at the Coke plant in Cali said that their suppliers should not use child labor, but added “that the enterprise [Coca-Cola] did not yet exercise oversight over this issue.”

India

Of the 200 countries where Coca-Cola is sold, India reportedly has the fastest-growing market, but the adverse environmental impacts of its operations there have subjected The Coca-Cola Co. and its local bottlers to a firestorm of criticism and protest. There has been a growing outcry against Coca-Cola’s production practices throughout India, which are draining out vast amounts of public groundwater and turning farming communities into virtual deserts. Suicide rates among Indian farmers whose livelihoods are being destroyed are growing at an alarming rate. Every day for years there has been some form of protest, from large demonstrations to small vigils, against Coca-Cola’s abuses in India.

One target of protest has been the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Plachimada, Kerala, which has remained shut down since March 2004 as a result of the community-led campaign in Plachimada challenging Coca-Cola’s abuse of water resources.

The International Environmental Law Research Centre issued a report in 2007 that stated, in part, “The deterioration of groundwater in quality and quantity and the consequential public health problems and the destruction of the agricultural economy are the main problems identified in Plachimada. The activity of The Coca Cola Company has caused or contributed a great deal to these problems…The availability of good quality water for drinking purposes and agriculture has been affected dangerously due to the activity of the Company. Apart from that, the Company had also polluted the agricultural lands by depositing the hazardous wastes. All these points to the gross violation of the basic human rights, that is, the right to life, right to livelihood and the violation of the pollution control laws.”

It is not so much a case of Coca-Cola having hard questions to answer as people realising that this company stand in the unenviable position of being one of the most unethical corporations in history. In May 2012 the London Olympic Torch will begin its long route through the United Kingdom, raising publicity for the Olympics and giving an opportunity for thousands of people to share in the Olympic ideal. The London 2012 website states:

The Olympic Flame will come within 10 miles of 95% of people in the UK, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey. It will enable local communities to shine a light on the best their area has to offer – including celebrations of local culture, breathtaking landscapes and dynamic urban areas.

The main sponsor of the Olympic torch is Coca-Cola. In 2011 the corporation ran a competition to select the young people who would bear the torch on its way around the country; in essence, if you wanted to bear the torch then you had to bare your soul to the Coca-Cola Corporation. The competition contained the following, stomach-churning propaganda, not a million miles away from the same propaganda that Joseph Goebells utilised so effectively in 1936:

The Olympic Flame is coming to the UK in 2012, and for the eighth time, Coca‑Cola will be a Presenting Partner of the Olympic Torch Relay. The route will stretch the entire length of the country, starting at Land’s End on May 19th 2012, and finishing in the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27th 2012. We’re using our involvement to shine a light on young people across the UK, and celebrate the great things they get up to every day.

Through our Future Flames campaign, we’ll be giving young people who are using their passions to inspire others the once-in-a-lifetime chance to carry the Olympic Torch next year.

Enough! It’s time we had another way of looking at the Olympics and opposing the way it and the torch relay has become a corporate party; a way that reflects the Olympic ideal, “to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play”.

So how about being a Future Rebel? Young people who agree with the Olympic ideal, but disagree vehemently with the corporate ties that the modern Olympics are so ravenously embracing. These corporate ties are so embedded that if you so much as bring a soft drink into an Olympic stadium that isn’t made by the Coca-Cola Corporation you will, at best, have it confiscated, and at worst be refused entry. Now I don’t really care whether I can take my choice of soft drink to an Olympic venue – I won’t be attending because of the sheer scale of commercialism. But I do care about the drowning of the ideas of friendship, solidarity and fair play in the tide of commerce. If you are in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, then as the Olympic torch passes through your neighbourhood I would love a band of people to be there, at every corner, on every street, subvertising the sponsors with alternative images; telling the press, radio and television reporters how commercialism is destroying childhood, sport and life in general; and generally pouring water on the brands that have come to dominate every aspect of our lives.

Or, for that especially ironic touch, you could use something other than water.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Exposure, General Hypocrisy, Human Rights, Sabotage, Subvertising | 1 Comment »

Jordanian Cultural Heritage Enriched by Sustainable Star Trek Resort

Posted by keith on October 25th, 2011

There is part of me wanting this to be a spoof, but most of me knows it’s real. I’m talking about the latest hair-brained scheme to tempt the mindless tourist into spending cash, in this case in the state of Jordan.

Hi Keith,

Building a sustainable, energy efficient luxury resort and theme park is an engineering challenge in and of itself: both are traditionally water- and energy-intensive. But in Jordan, where only 10 inches of rain fall per year and energy and water security is always tenuous, achieving as much self-sufficiency as possible is a necessity.

That’s why -as you may have heard-the $1.5 billion dollar Star Trek-themed Red Sea Astrarium in Jordan is being built with on-site renewable energy production facilities, integrated grey water and solid waste management systems, and numerous other cutting edge efficiency measures.

The reduction of the potable water use of the resort buildings alone will save 57.6 million gallons per year (as compared to business as usual). That’s enough water to serve the annual drinking needs of 303,000 people.

If you’re interested, I’d like to connect you with the engineers from Arup that developed the design, for a peek behind the curtain and a frank discussion about the nuts and bolts of the project.

Arup’s plans will:
- reduce water and energy usage by up to 20%,
- reduce resort cooling demand by up to 19%, and
- allow the Astrarium to produce 15 to 20% of its energy from on-site using renewables.

Any interest?

Best,
Courtney
chamilton@groupsjr.com

You can learn more about the Red Sea Astrarium here: http://www.arup.com/Projects/Red_Sea_Astrarium.aspx

Clearly Courtney is just a hired drone who takes no interest in her copy otherwise, in the name of all that is holy, she would have realised what an unwittingly hilarious piece of greenwashing PR bilge this is. You only need to try and digest the phrase “Building a sustainable, energy efficient luxury resort and theme park” to realise that. The obvious response is: “So why build the fucking thing in the first place?!”

But I am more polite than that:

This is a joke, yes? A “sustainable” luxury report and theme park that is completely superfluous and about as relevant to the Jordanian culture as building a copy of the Great Wall of China in New York – that’s hilarious. Well done.

Keith

No response, and how rude is that? There are three forces at work here – not in preventing a response, you understand, I’m not paranoid – in making such a concept possible in the first place:

1) A nation or corporation that promises to pay a nation, so desperate for money that they will stoop to such incredible depths to make a project like this happen. According to the Business Anti-Corruption Portal:

“Despite the absence of any significant natural resources, Jordan has succeeded in attracting foreign investments through economic reforms and has demonstrated solid economic growth rates, while the government has gradually been implementing policies to improve competition and to foster transparency. The need for such policies have gained strength under the circumstances that Jordan has witnessed and which are strongly related to the public uprisings that have swept the Arabic region since early 2011. Public dissatisfaction with government policies and the rule of law has mobilised the King and the government to initiate reforms to improve the political, economic and social climate of the country.”

Which obviously includes attracting as many tourists as possible regardless of the cultural, social and environmental implications of implementing a straight-down-the-middle capitalist attitude. The announcement of the project was made in May 2011:

Rubicon Group Holding (RGH), a diversified global entertainment organization producing innovative digital animated content and location-based attractions, will design and produce The Red Sea Astrarium (TRSA), a 184-acre themed entertainment resort located in Aqaba, Jordan, which, through a license from CBS Consumer Products, will prominently feature an amazing attraction inspired by the 2009 international hit motion picture, Star Trek. The “Star Trek” attraction is being creatively developed by Paramount Recreation.

That announcement was made today by Randa S. Ayoubi, CEO of Rubicon Group Holding, at the Jordanian-American Business Forum, under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, in a special signing ceremony attended by business leaders from Jordan and the United States.

2) An engineering company determined to prove its “green” credentials, despite being a major provider of oil and gas infrastructure, aviation services, mining infrastructure and massive commercial developments. Arup are all this and far more; and as such gloss over their activities with a thick layer of greenwash, everywhere you look. The Astrarium is no exception:

The Red Sea Astrarium (Astrarium) represents an opportunity to demonstrate Jordan’s commitment to innovation and sustainable development. Resort developments, particularly those that target a global audience, increasingly reflect the global interest in sustainable development. The Astrarium will be at the forefront of sustainable resort development by implementing Arup’s infrastructure recommendations.

The Astrarium is a planned 184 acre entertainment resort and virtual reality theme park showcasing the rich cultural history and future of Jordan and the Middle East. Situated on a soaring plateau close to the Port City of Aqaba, the park includes four hotels, an entertainment district, a man-made saltwater lagoon, and two waterfront areas, one anchored by a ‘Star Trek’ themed attraction.

Brought in to provide infrastructure planning and design of the development’s energy, water, wastewater, solid waste, mobility and logistical management systems, the Astrarium presented a number of challenges to the Arup team. Located 200 metres above sea level in the mountains bordering the Red Sea, the site has no natural source of potable water thanks to the region’s arid climate while the development itself will have a substantial energy demand due to the array of attractions and amenities.

Words and thoughts consistently fail me with every sentence of this remarkable piece of rhetorical bullshit. One thing it does wrap up nicely is that there is NO SUCH THING AS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

3) A PR company so willing to bend over and take whatever any corporation cares to shove in their direction that they will deliver, en masse, complete lies in order to make a fast buck.

Anyone wishing to undermine any of these three forces has my complete blessing; if you have any success let me know, I would love to see this all come toppling down.

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy, Promotions, Techno Fixes | 2 Comments »

Occupy Wall Street: The Futility and the Opportunity

Posted by keith on October 18th, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Placard - The Guardian

There are a couple of quotations which I would like to share with you. Read them carefully; they will possibly make you angry, or perhaps you will be nodding furiously in agreement with one if not both of them. They are important quotations. This is the first:

One will find hundreds, sometimes thousands, assembled in an orderly fashion, listening to selected speakers calling for an end to this or that aspect of lethal state activity, carrying signs “demanding” the same thing…and – typically – the whole thing is quietly disbanded with exhortations to the assembled to “keep working” on the matter and to please sign a petition.

Throughout the whole charade it will be noticed that the state is represented by a uniformed police presence keeping a discreet distance and not interfering with the activities. And why should they? The organizers will have gone through “proper channels” to obtain permits. Surrounding the larger mass of demonstrators can be seen others…their function is to ensure the demonstrators remain “responsible,” not deviating from the state-sanctioned plan of protest.

(Ward Churchill, “Pacifism as Pathology”)

This quotation is important because it reflects very strongly on how the Occupy (Wall Street) Movement is functioning. It clearly expresses the nature of non-violent protest and occupation, which in the Westernised, symbolic mindset has been reduced to the smoking ruin of “doing what the authorities permit”. Only in Italy has the Occupy protest become significantly more than a symbolic talking shop and, of course, any semblance of violence, whether that “violence” is aimed at a shop window or an armed police guard, is absolutely, unequivocally condemned by the true representatives of the Occupy Movement.

While the vast majority of those who turned up that day remained peaceful — indeed, hostile to those battling the police — only the most violent reached the march’s planned destination. They seem to have dashed there to pre-empt the rest of the march, engaging the police in about two hours of fighting in front of the basilica. The rest, blocked by the fighting, quickly dissipated, their banners crestfallen; many detoured to the enormous field that marks the remains of the ancient Circus Maximus.

The idea that a “protester” against the capitalist system of financial elitist might could be actively hostile to someone who is battling the very forces who represent the system they are apparently protesting against is mind-boggling, not to mention illogical. But it perfectly bears out Ward Churchill’s observations of the nature of organised protest in the industrial West. Looking at the Occupy Wall Street web site reveals an article entitled “From Tahrir Square to Times Square: Protests Erupt in Over 1,500 Cities Worldwide” which focuses almost entirely on New York and conveniently skips any mention of Rome – yet the headline used the word “erupt”. Clearly any eruption has to be properly sanctioned by those calling the shots. The comments below the article are replete with complaints about the media coverage of the protests, as if coverage is what matters rather than actually achieving anything concrete (“Hey guys, we got in The Times. High fives!”). One comment is particularly revealing:

We’re pulling together world-wide. 40,000 people on the street in Germany this weekend – not enough, but a first step in the right direction. Don’t believe the news coverage about Rome (Italy): there were just under 100 troublemakers, but 200,000 peaceful protesters!!!

This speaks the language of symbolic environmental “leaders” like Bill McKibben, who count success in terms of numbers rather than results. According to the logic of the mainstream activist groups what matters is not that one person managed to disrupt a corrupt system, but that thousands of people marched in support of that one person.

I suspect that the same groups and “leaders” would be horrified if someone were to slice through the primary fibre optic cables connecting CNN or Fox News to the outside world if it interrupted coverage of the same protest; even if it meant the cessation of a constant barrage of state and corporate controlled news into the homes of the civilized millions.

That the Occupy protests provide a potential useful crucible for real action that may help remove the very systems the movement rails against (though not too much of it, please, because how would those “jobs” we all desire (are made to desire) be created?) is not in dispute; though from my experience, such gatherings are no more crucibles of real change than any other gathering of people who have an opportunity to talk. In fact, the very act of occupying without disrupting is likely to plant the idea into the heads of very many people that occupation without disruption is sufficient.

It is not. Here is the second quotation:

Revolutionary movements do not spread by contamination but by resonance. Something that is constituted here resonates with the shock wave emitted by something constituted over there. A body that resonates does so according to its own mode. An insurrection is not like a plague or a forest fire – a linear process which spreads from place to place after an initial spark. It rather takes the shape of a music, whose focal points, though dispersed in time and space, succeed in imposing the rhythm of their own vibrations, always taking on more density. To the point that any return to normal is no longer desirable or even imaginable.

When we speak of Empire we name the mechanisms of power that preventively and surgically stifle any revolutionary becoming in a situation. In this sense, Empire is not an enemy that confronts us head-on. It is a rhythm that imposes itself, a way of dispensing and dispersing reality. Less an order of the world than its sad, heavy and militaristic liquidation.

The goal of any insurrection is to become irreversible. It becomes irreversible when you’ve defeated both authority and the need for authority, property and the taste for appropriation, hegemony and the desire for hegemony. That is why the insurrectionary process carries within itself the form of its victory, or that of its defeat. Destruction has never been enough to make things irreversible. What matters is how it’s done.

(The Invisible Committee, “The Coming Insurrection”)

This quotation is important because it is. Read it again, then go and make your own occupation – in whatever form it may take – count.

Posted in Advice, Campaigns, NGO Hypocrisy, Symbolic Action | 3 Comments »

An Open Letter to Mike Gonzalez, and Everyone Else Writing About Evo Morales

Posted by keith on October 4th, 2011

To: Professor Mike Gonzalez, Glasgow University

Hi Mike

I’ve just read your article “Eva Morales Defence of Mother Earth Rings Hollow in Bolivia” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/oct/03/evo-morales-indigenous-people-protest) and am a little concerned. I assume (hope) you weren’t responsible for the headline as that only reflects a personal opinion, even though the headline implies this as fact. You are no doubt more qualified than me to comment on the political situation in Bolivia, but to suggest that the actions of an over-zealous police force reflects on Morales’ worldview when earlier in the article you show it was subordinates of Morales who ordered and defended the actions of the police is confused, if not dangerous.

There is a huge amount of economic interest in Bolivia, as you correctly state, and to ignore the enormously powerful forces of corporatism and state-sponsored agitation (as has been rife in South America over the past 45 years) in favour of an attack on Morales principles is disingenuous to say the least. A common tactic in past regime changes has been to undermine the head of state through the buying out of lesser politicians, and creating a feeling of unrest on the street by the spreading of rumours, the control of the military and subsequent violence to suppress dissent, and other tactics more subtle yet just as effective. I, and others like me, suspect this is happening at this very moment.

Mainstream NGOs are, of course, blind to such activities as they will always pursue the populist agenda, i.e. that which supports the viewpoints expounded by the bulk of their supporters – after all, where would they get funding from if they were campaigning counter to the viewpoints of their funders? Of course the frontline prevention of unethical activities has to take place, but to report on this and ignore the background of supremely powerful influences bent on regime change (and how better to make it happen than to tar the regime with the brush of “inhumanity” – how ironic given the previous paragraph) is not acceptable. The real kicker here is that none of the mainstream NGOs have signed up to the ground breaking People’s Agreement of Cochabamba, or the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth which Morales himself has pushed for since 2009. This is a telling sign, if not absolute evidence, of the mainstream bias of the media bodies and NGOs reporting on the current situation in Bolivia.

I would urge you to read the article at http://wrongkindofgreen.org/2011/09/30/who-really-leads-on-the-environment-bolivia-verses-the-movement-the-facts-speak-for-themselves/, and perhaps ask that your article be amended to reflect the wider background of corporate and state influence in South America.

Kind regards

Keith Farnish

(More information at http://wrongkindofgreen.org/2011/09/30/peak-hypocrisy-u-s-organizations-exploit-bolivia-crisis/)

Posted in Government Policies, Human Rights, Media Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Political Hypocrisy | No Comments »

Moving Planet Just Moved!

Posted by keith on September 23rd, 2011

Symbolic action sucks!

Have a look at the other side of Moving Planet and the environmental mainstream at www.moving-planet.com

Posted in Exposure, NGO Hypocrisy, Subvertising | No Comments »