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

Posted by keith on 10th November 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 »

Moving Planet Just Moved!

Posted by keith on 23rd September 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 »

Dispatches: Conservation’s Dirty Secrets

Posted by keith on 21st June 2011

JUST-WATCH-THIS…

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/4od#3201652

Dispatches reporter Oliver Steeds travels the globe to investigate the conservation movement and its major organisations. Steeds finds that the movement, far from stemming the tide of extinction that’s engulfing the planet, has got some of its conservation priorities wrong.

The film examines the way the big conservation charities are run. It questions why some work with polluting big businesses to raise money and are alienating the very people they would need to stem the loss of species from earth.

Conservation is massively important but few dare to question the movement. Some critics argue that it is in part getting it wrong, and that, as a consequence, some of the flora and fauna it seeks to save are facing oblivion.

Long term it can also be viewed on YouTube via http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUwYZSwSLY0

More information about Conservation International’s activities can be found at http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/877241/conservation_international_agreed_to_greenwash_arms_company.html

More information about WWF’s capitalist addiction can be found at http://www.worldwildlife.org/what/partners/corporate/index.html. You can make your own mind up about the motivation of the various businesses.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Cover Ups, Exposure, Funding, Human Rights, NGO Hypocrisy, Sponsorship | 2 Comments »

I’m On The Run

Posted by keith on 7th June 2011

Actually I’m not. It would have been quite exciting to have been writing a blog from an internet cafe somewhere, or hijacking a wireless connection outside an office building, but it seems I am safe and snug in my home completely bereft of law enforcement officers hammering at my door demanding I complete the 2011 Census. Following on from my public announcement that I would be breaking the “law” (actually breaching the terms of the Census Act, as they aren’t allowed to call it a law) there was a mixture of wholehearted support, denial that the census was anything but an important social tool, and personal appeals to just fill the damn thing in.

As expected I received a few visits from the census taker, a very nice lady in her 50s, I would say, who continued to follow the official line regardless of what I said, although towards the end I did sense that she felt she would rather be somewhere else than at my door listening to various problems I had with the execution of the census. What emerged prior to census day really sealed my position though. It turned out that, during an experimental testing of the census materials, I couldn’t get the envelope to stick down. After all the claims of security on the Scotland’s Census website with regards to CACI (UK) Ltd, they couldn’t even use proper envelope glue, effectively making the act of posting the census form a security failure in itself. It wasn’t just me – of the four people I asked in Scotland, two of them had already noticed this, one had stuck their envelope successfully, and one hadn’t checked. As the two people weren’t even that local to me then I have to assume the problem was more widespread than just my local office.

This I passed onto the Census Office, my local MSP, my MP and a couple of newspapers. The resulting publicity over this complete balls-up was…zero. It seemed that the census was sacrosanct and nothing would be allowed to cast a pall over its exulted status – especially given the amount of money and airtime being utilised telling people that the MUST FILL IN THE FORM. A £1000 fine loomed, so we were all told.

After the second note of non-compliance had been put through my letter box, I bumped into the census taker outside my gate. The conversation went something like this:

“Have you filled in your census form yet?”

“No.”

“You do know that you have to fill it in or you will get a fine.”

“Yes.”

And I walked off to buy a local paper.

The next time I met the census taker was on my doorstep. She was a bit less smiley than usual. I explained that this was nothing personal but I would not be filling in my census form until the Census Office had explained how they were going to deal with the likely security breaches resulting from the failure of the envelopes to seal, and that I had absolutely no confidence in their ability to keep confidential data from a military contractor given that they couldn’t even keep their data safe from casual sorting office glances. This was noted, and that was the last time I ever saw her.

I expected a formal letter soon afterwards. None came. It has been six weeks since the Census was supposed to have been filled in. According to the Census Web Site, this is the compliance process:

1. Your census taker (enumerator) will visit to remind you to complete the questionnaire and offer help and advice to do so. If you’re out, they will leave a reminder card.

2. If the questionnaire is still not with us after seven days, your census taker will visit again and, if you’re out, will leave a second reminder card.

3. If you refuse to take part, that information will be forwarded to the census non-compliance team.

4. You will be sent a warning letter from the Registrar General Duncan Macniven. Warning letters are also issued to people who publicly state that they refuse to fill in a census and/or encourage others not to.

5. You may also be visited by census non-compliance officers and your case may be referred to the Procurator Fiscal. Successful prosecutions will result in a fine of up to £1,000 and a criminal record.

No letter, even though I publicly stated my refusal to fill in the census, and encouraged others not to do so. No visit from non-compliance officers. Nothing.

I am very disappointed; I wanted a fight, in court, and in public. It would have been a great pleasure to explain to the media and the courts that despite my calls to the Census Office and my so-called representatives, no public statement was made, not even the pathetic “You could stick it down with tape” one official respondant suggested, with regards to the impending security breach. I would have loved to have got the Census Office to publicly state that despite not even being able to source a decent glue we should still trust our personal information to a company that used state privilege to escape prosecution for repeated human rights violations.

If it happens, you’ll be the first to know.

Posted in Cover Ups, Exposure, Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy | 2 Comments »

350.org on Facebook: Now You See It…Now You Don’t

Posted by keith on 8th April 2011

Naomi Klein decided to join the board of 350.org. They are delighted, as you would be if one of the world’s most influential anti-capitalism writers joined your campaign.

Obviously this puts Naomi Klein’s writings in a whole new focus – she’s happy to be part of an organisation that received its seed money from a foundation that bears the name of the kinds of business empires she railed against in the Shock Doctrine. She’s happy to be part of an organisation that has recently forsaken its grass-roots members in favour of business partners in order to add a bit of money to its empty coffers.

They are happy, so they put something on their Facebook Page to say so. Not surprisingly the fans were also delighted and started posting gleefully, as they do on everything to do with 350.org.

Then someone posted a link to my previously mentioned article – it didn’t quite gel with the self-congratulatory sense of the rest of the comments, but criticism is criticism and 350.org are surely big enough to cope with a bit of that:

Apparently not. Within a few minutes the link was removed. Someone alerted me to this and I posted a comment asking why the link had been removed, and whether their recent merger with 1Sky was not just a way of saving money.

That post disappeared as well, as did the post of the person who originally alerted me to the link.

Then 350.org commented back, which you can see in the image below, along with the absence of the two posts being referred to:

That response in full:

“Hey Rachael and Keith. I’m a 350.org FB admin — and didn’t delete any comments, except the sudden notes you left accusing 350.org of deleting comments (could you have re-posted your criticism?) We do moderate comments, and will un-publish ones that are divisive, or seek to draw people into movement in-fighting. We don’t have time for that anymore. Critical discussion is a whole other ball-game — we welcome that, of course, and need it to keep evolving. Thanks.”

I highlighted a key phrase here – “Critical discussion is a whole other ball-game — we welcome that, of course” – in view of the next move by the 350.org administrators. They blocked both me and my contact from commenting further on the Facebook page. Not content with censoring anything that looked like dissent they decided to lock out any dissenters entirely, in case their rose-tinted views might be damaged in any way.

The following email has been sent to 350.org. I await their response:

Hi Guys

Well done for the brave move in banning people from your Facebook group. Glad to see that the merger with 1Sky is making you even more keen to avoid any kind of criticism rather than engage with the criticisms of symbolic action and working too closely to businesses.

Don’t worry, though, because the original screen captures of posts you deleted and people you banned are still available and will be appearing on a few websites soon.

I think it’s safe to say you ran out of money even with your appeals to business, which is why you have been forced to recombine with 1Sky. Call it a tactical retreat if you will, but I think there are a growing number of people who recognise that writing letters to senators and forming pretty pictures out of tee-lights isn’t really the way to undermine the planet killing system that’s loving every “action” that leaves them unscathed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vb9JdH6sU1Y – the industrial system must be really crapping itself with this kind of hardline stuff.

Cheers

Keith Farnish
www.unsuitablog.org
www.timesupbook.com

Posted in Exposure, NGO Hypocrisy, Symbolic Action | 10 Comments »

Undermining in 2010: How Did I Do?

Posted by keith on 27th December 2010

There is something very human in looking back over a specific period of time and reflecting on what you have achieved, failed in or could just have done a bit better. It’s part of the learning process that civilization discourages, because if we really did look back and reflect upon what really matters to us, then we would – me included – have more than a few regrets as to how little we actually did. All that time spent shopping, watching TV, social networking, being taught pointless bits of information at school so we can end up doing pointless things at work in order that we can shop, watch TV and socially network…a boon for the industrial economy; another nail in the coffin of life.

But among that monotony and technologically-assisted repetition are signs that change is happening: that the system is creaking under the joint pressures of material shortage, financial instability and – how it warms my heart to write this – a determination from formerly benign quarters to no longer take this toxic existence lying down. The impact of WikiLeaks on the psyche of people who previously might have considered freedom of information a luxury, is perhaps the most high-profile indicator of this change; but there are other signs, such as targeted rioting across Europe, an upsurge in on-the-ground direct action in the Americas, and a not-too-insignificant backlash against the mainstream environmental movement’s stubborn intransigence. In parallel with that is the growth of survivalist and anti-civilization groups, and a widespread move towards self-sufficiency.

This is just a tiny taster of what is perhaps a much wider air of discontent with the industrial system, but there is no room for complacency – it is just as likely a reaction to financial hardship, rather than altruistic, or communal, desire; nevertheless, the light of humanity does seem to be flickering back into life.

For my part, I have been involved in a number of external and internal struggles that have manifested themselves in all sorts of unexpected outcomes. The Unsuitablog has provided a frosted window for peering into some of these, and given that I made Undermining the focus of this blog in 2010, I think it only right to explain, as far as I can, how I think I did in this area. As I made clear in the opening salvo of this year-long campaign, being an interested bystander was no longer an option. We all had to, and could do something significant:

“One action a month, by every person who reads The Unsuitablog: that’s a lot of actions that could really drive some terminal nails into the coffin labelled “Hypocrites”, helping to free up the minds of a misled and brainwashed public.”

The rule I set myself was that for every Monthly Undermining Task article posted on The Unsuitablog, I would do at least one of the tasks contained therein. I don’t believe in passing the buck; we all have a part to play, and if dramatic change is to happen we have it within our gift to provide the environment where that change can take place.

January‘s “The Great TV Turn-Off” was the opener, partly because television is such a ubiquitous and usually negative influence on humanity, and partly because I wanted to provide some ideas that everyone could carry through with immediate impact, and without great risk to themselves. After a few forays in local shopping malls with my TV-B-Gone, I decided to upgrade to a high-powered TV-B-Gone model (my first soldering project) that was so effective I had to make quick exits from a number of stores. On Christmas Eve 2010 I discovered, to my delight, that Burger King menus were now on LCD TVs…I didn’t hang around to see the chaos. Sadly I never had a chance to use my Grid Key Switch, but will try my best in the new year.

February‘s “Time To Break The Ads” saw a sudden outbreak of torn billboards in my hometown, along with AdBlock Plus becoming a staple of every computer I tuned up in my work. Again, I wasn’t ever in a position to switch off lit billboards, but did a fair bit of poster “reconfiguration”.

March saw the joint campaign called “Throwing off the Shackles of Debt“, which featured prominently in the ouvres of three writers of far greater significance than myself, creating a huge amount of fuss in one particular place. As a family we, even with a move from England to Scotland, reduced our spending and reinforced our desire never to be indebted. That month I sent a fake press release on behalf of a major retail bank to dozens of radio stations in the UK outlining the bank’s plans to go loan-free. As with most undermining activities, I have no idea whether this came to anything, but on the other hand did it with no comeback whatsoever (partly due to posting the letters in a different part of the country).

In April I targeted the school system, and it’s brainless testing regime in “Sack The SATs“. This coincided with our move to a place that does not have the regime I railed against, but while in England there was time to persuade a few parents not to subject their children to extra-curricular cramming classes, and steadfastly refused to give any time to pre-SATs homework. It was wonderful to learn that a quarter of schools had, for their part, decided to boycott English SATs – a serious blow for the testing regime. Immediately after moving we learnt about the joys of unschooling with one of our children, though haven’t quite got to the point where it’s necessary to take them out of school altogether – they need to make friends, after all.

In May it was time to “Mind Your Language“, for which I took a more analytical approach towards, publishing a major piece on The Earth Blog, which was republished in far more high-profile locations. Subsequently I have been a lot more careful with my own use of loaded words, but not being in more public-facing role there hasn’t been a lot more I could do.

June‘s “It’s The Freeconomy, Stupid!” coincided with the profile raising of the Freeconomy movement, particularly the Guardian’s featuring of Mark Boyle’s work – so I can’t take any credit for that. However, my barter-based computer servicing business has been quite successful, both in terms of work and the number of people in our village taking a renewed interest in bartering and sharing of goods and skills. In the 5 months since the business was established I have worked for: vegetables, the services of an electrician, some shelves, the labour to build a chicken fence, a loft full of sheeps wool insulation, a hand-made scarf and all sorts of knick-nacks that were offered.

July encouraged people to “Escape The Tourist Trap“, but I have watched in dismay as people close to me seem to have taken more overseas holidays, not less; although we have come across an array of neighbours who think close to home (or at home) is the best place for a holiday. For my part, we steadfastly refused to go any further than back to where we used to live, and even paid for a (relatively cheap) holiday next year which included people who might have otherwise gone far further afield. Fortunately for society in general, icy weather and industrial action stopped an awful lot of needless vacations in 2010, which is some comfort.

In August I wanted people to “Crash The Mainstream Environmentalists’ Party“, which saw a major ally in the form of the Cochabamba Agreement that made clear which NGOs were actually on the side of Earth and the people. It turned out that few were – the presence of the Agreement can only make things increasingly uncomfortable for the mainstream. I’m afraid I was distracted from doing anything really effective myself at the time, apart from becoming the bane of the Nature Conservancy Facebook Group, and publishing a few blogs about NGO hypocrisy here; but I have a couple of irons in the fire which will become apparent in 2011.

I was 40 in September. Just thought I’d mention that, and the fact that it just made me more determined to get stuck into things. I started writing a new book all about Undermining, but can’t really put that into the mix until its published. I did take a swipe at the fashion industry in that month, and October, making “Unfashion” the priority. Being a distinctly unfashionable person, there is little more I can do to change things at home, though I am working with a friend who produces goods from scrap and offcuts, and doing my best to imbue everyone with a love of the second-hand. Unfashion is more a state of mind than an activity, but if you fancy taping up any new year sales as a crime scene then be my guest…

The last published MUT was in November. Entitled “The Online Infocrunch” it was a shout-out to everyone with a taste for online activism to subvert and correct the skewed worldview given to us by the internet heirarchy. I have carried out a few subtle corrections to Wikipedia, helped out with a few bits of online subterfuge and – earlier in the year – created my own fake online announcement which made it to the front page (as a refutation) of the target company’s website. To my sheer joy, the company involved later pulled out of the relevant activities, although I probably can’t take much credit for that. I guarantee that more of the same will be happening in 2011.

Finally, I intended the December Monthly Undermining Task to be related to WikiLeaks, with a call for people to help the site, and to leak information wherever possible. Then I got involved in a bit of hard reality, and with the help of a few other people, EnviroLeaks was born. This is ostensibly an extension of the call for information from readers of The Unsuitablog, but with the stakes so much higher now that information leaking has become mainstream news. EnviroLeaks is not a substitute for WikiLeaks: we hope instead it will complement that offering with a more conversational and also targeted approach to environmental malpractice.

2011 may be a bit more barren on the pages of The Unsuitablog due to this and other committments. We all have so much to do – and even if we can’t or shouldn’t write about it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Have a great and very active 2011.

Keith

Posted in Exposure, Monthly Undermining Tasks, Reviews, Sabotage, Spoofs, Subvertising, Unsuitablog News | No Comments »

WIKILEAKS MIRROR SITES – IMPORTANT

Posted by keith on 3rd December 2010

The Wikileaks servers are under constant pressure and attack: both the sheer weight of traffic and the efforts of various government agencies to bring the servers down, or damage the DNS records, are conspiring to make the main wikileaks.org site unavailable. But this is not really a problem for two reasons: first, the latest batch of leaks is already circulating, in the hands of both the mainstream media and also countless numbers of individuals who are ensuring the data is kept safe. Second, there are a number of mirror servers that are hosting the Wikileaks database in various locations around the world. The single page site www.wikileaks.info holds a reliable list of the mirror servers along with various alternative information portals. The information below, derived from that page, will be kept up to date as far as I am able.

* wikileaks.org – Official Wikileaks Page [46.51.171.90, 184.72.37.90]

* wikileaks.ch – Alternate live page (thanks for Patti for info)

* cablegate.wikileaks.org – Secret US Embassy Cables [91.194.60.90, 91.194.60.112, 204.236.131.131]

* chat.wikileaks.org – Secure SSL Chat Page [88.80.13.160], currently unavailable

* sunshinepress.org – Secure Document Submission Page [88.80.2.32 – currently 213.251.145.96/]

* wikileaks.com – Currently unavailable

* wikileaks.net – Currently parked

* wikileaks.biz – Currently parked

* wikileaks.de – Points to Official Site [88.80.13.160 – currently 213.251.145.96]

* wikileaks.eu – Points to Official Site [88.80.13.160 – currently 213.251.145.96]

* wikileaks.fi – Points to Official Site [88.80.13.160 – currently 213.251.145.96]

* wikileaks.mobi – Currently parked

* wikileaks.nl – Possibly a full mirror

* wikileaks.pl – Points to Official Site [88.80.13.160 – currently 213.251.145.96]

* wikileaks.us – Currently parked

* ljsf.org – Points to Official Site [88.80.13.160]

Real mirrors on different IP Addresses:

* wikileaks.info – Mirror hosted in Switzerland [62.2.16.94]

* wikileaks.se – Mirror hosted in Sweden [88.80.6.179]

* nyud.net – Mirror hosted in the United States [129.170.214.192]

* zxq.net – Static Cablegate mirror (thanks to Maria for link)

Important Wikileaks Links:

* twitter.com/wikileaks – Official Wikileaks Twitter Page

* facebook.com/wikileaks – Official Wikileaks Facebook Page

In addition, if you are a Torrenter (BitTorrent etc.) then please take a moment to download (and host if possible) the encrypted Wikileaks Insurance file. This is likely to be another batch of “hot” information, with the decryption key being released in the event of the Wikileaks infrastructure or staff being severely compromised in any way. More information on the Insurance file is available here.

Information on how to Mirror Wikileaks is on this page – a dynamic list will be maintained as soon as 50 mirrors are established.

Thank you.

Posted in Advice, Cover Ups, Exposure | 6 Comments »

Wikileaks: Governments Apologising In Advance For Being Rude

Posted by keith on 28th November 2010

Well, it seems that a few politicians have been saying rude things about each other, and now they are really desperate to cover it all up. I don’t know; we expect “our” representatives to be paragons of virtue and then damn Wikileaks spills the beans. Bad Wikileaks!

On the other hand, given the shit that ordinary people are forced to put up with – especially in terms of living under constant CCTV surveillance, every email you send and every web site you visit being tracked, and being locked up or at least fined for not carrying ID – it seems rather appropriate that the shoe is on the other foot. And remember what we keep getting told?

All together now: IF YOU HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING WRONG THEN YOU HAVE NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT!

Cheers, Wikileaks.

Frantic behind the scenes wrangling was under way last night as US officials tried to stem the fallout from the expected release of up to three million confidential diplomatic communiques by the Wikileaks website.

Over the past 48 hours, American ambassadors have had the unenviable task of informing some of the country’s strongest allies that a series of potentially embarrassing cables are likely to be released in the coming days.

The latest tranche of documents, described by Wikileaks as being seven times as large as its last exposé – the 400,000 secret war logs from Iraq that were published last month – are thought to be cables taken from SIPRNet, the Pentagon’s global secret-level computer network which is accessible online for those with clearance.

US officials say the publication of such reports, which often contain candid assessments from embassy staff and ambassadors about foreign governments and leaders, has the potential to harm relations between Washington and its allies.

Downing Street yesterday confirmed that the US ambassador in London had already briefed the Government on what might be contained in the files. Similar meetings were also reported in Turkey, Israel, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Australia.

Wikileaks has made no official confirmation other than through brief messages posted on its Twitter page claiming that the Pentagon was “hyperventilating again over fears of being held to account”.

It is not clear whether the whistle-blowing website will black-out the names of people who might face persecution if they were known to be co-operating with American embassies abroad. A source at Wikileaks said that the website was “proceeding with caution, as always” with regard to the details it would put into the public domain, suggesting that some form of redaction would be used.

But US officials have nonetheless reacted angrily, arguing that any publication of the cables would make diplomacy in sensitive parts of the world much more difficult.

“WikiLeaks are an absolutely awful impediment to my business, which is to be able to have discussions in confidence with people,” said James Jeffrey, US ambassador to Baghdad. “I do not understand the motivation for releasing these documents. They will not help, they will simply hurt our ability to do our work here.”

Early indications suggest the communiqués – thought to be from the last five years – could be a major source of embarrassment both for Washington and its allies, shining a light on the kind of candid opinions and policies that governments like to keep secret.

Quoting a Wikileaks “administrator”, the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat said some of the cables suggested that Turkey had been turning a blind eye to fighters from the group Al-Qa’ida in Iraq slipping across into Turkey from the south. According to the same report, separate cables also reveal that Washington has been allowing fighters from the Kurdish separatist group the PKK safe havens in northern Iraq to stage attacks on Turkey.

Sources familiar with the US State Department reports told Reuters that some of the missives are thought to contain allegations against politicians in Russia, Afghanistan and other Central Asian nations.

The Russian daily business newspaper Kommersant said that the cables will contain general assessments of the political situation in Russia and “unflattering characteristics” of Russian leaders.

Italy’s Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, also admitted yesterday during a Cabinet meeting in Rome that the Wikileaks documents could have “negative repercussions” on the country’s embattled Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

That Wikileaks is in possession of the secret communications has been suspected by US officials ever since Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning was arrested six months ago on charges of leaking confidential information to the whistleblowing website.

In an online chat with former hacker Adrian Lamo, who eventually turned Manning in to the authorities, the Iraq-based analyst boasted how he had handed over a cache of secret foreign policy documents that revealed “almost-criminal political back dealings” by US officials.

In the online chat made available by Lamo, Manning added: “Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public.”

(from The Independent)

Posted in Exposure, Political Hypocrisy | 1 Comment »

After The Yes Men’s Chevron Spoof, What Next For YOU?

Posted by keith on 26th October 2010

Strike while the iron is hot, or take a breather and think about your next move. The feelings of an Underminer during a hot spoof are often confused, but in some cases a retrospective look is necessary in order to understand what effective action really means. Case in point, the action by the Yes Men in undermining Chevron’s “We Agree” campaign, which for reasons Googley, I’m not going to link to.

At 07:37 BST (that’s 02:37 EST) an email popped into my mailbox purporting to come from Chevron Corp. Fortunately I was up at around this time, read the email, examined the headers, looked at the links and concluded it was a spoof: a very good spoof. Here’s the email:

From: Chevron Media Relations
Sent: Monday, October 18, 2010 7:37 AM
To: Keith Farnish
Subject: Radical Chevron Ad Campaign Highlights Victims

Chevron has added a news release to its Investor Relations website.

Title: Radical Chevron Ad Campaign Highlights Victims

Date(s): 18 October. 2010

To view this release on the web, please click here

Radical Chevron Ad Campaign Highlights Victims

By honestly featuring oil industry misdeeds, Chevron “We Agree” campaign scores ad industry first
SAN RAMON, Calif., Oct. 18, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) has announced a new global advertising campaign aimed at showing Chevron as a “real people” corporation, and admitting to problems that companies usually try to hide.

“We want the world to know that we’re just like you and me,” said Chevron Vice Chairman George L. Kirkland. “We’ve got problems and challenges, and we too make mistakes, but we’re telling truths no one usually tells, and looking wide-eyed into the future.”

The candid advertising campaign, created by award-winning long-time Chevron ad partner McGarryBowen, features real people on the receiving end of Chevron controversies in Ecuador, Nigeria, the U.S. Gulf Coast and elsewhere. Each print ad is designed with an authentic pop-culture street-art aesthetic, and features a sincere slogan followed by a big red “We Agree” stamp, the signature of Chevron executives, and the Chevron logo.

“Chevron is making a clean break from the past by taking direct responsibility for our own actions,” said Rhonda Zygocki, Chevron vice president of Policy, Government and Public Affairs.

“Oil Companies Should Clean Up Their Messes,” reads one ad; the small print refers candidly to the damage done by oil companies around the world. “For decades, oil companies like ours have worked in disadvantaged areas, influencing policy in order to do there what we can’t do at home. It’s time this changed.”

Another ad, “Oil Companies Should Fix The Problems They Create,” is just as topical. “Extracting oil from the Earth is a risky process, and mistakes do happen. It’s easy to pass the blame or ignore the mistakes we’ve made. Instead, we need to face them head on, accept our financial and environmental responsibilities, and fund new technologies to avoid these mistakes in the future.”

“We were asked to show an agreeable, involved, of-the-people face for Chevron, and we think we came up with some really great ways of doing that,” said Gordon Bowen, Chief Creative Officer of McGarryBowen. “But what’s unique and different here is the honesty. We’ve never been able to do this before.”

“We’re telling truths no one usually tells,” said Zygocki. “We’re changing the way the whole industry speaks.”

“BP’s response to the Gulf tragedy was widely perceived as perfunctory and insincere,” noted Bowen. “Chevron has big problems too, like in Ecuador – but they’re really stepping up to the plate.”

The “We Agree” campaign is an evolution of Chevron’s “Power of Human Energy” campaign, which launched in 2007 with a series of print, online, broadcast and outdoor ads that all sought to raise awareness and encourage discussion about the major issues facing the energy industry. Though the exact cost of “We Agree” remains confidential, Chevron routinely spends $90 million per year on US advertising alone.

“‘We Agree’ conveys that Chevron is all for people,” said Zygocki. “Just as ‘We’ is inclusive, so Chevron is inclusive. It’s time we were on the side of people, no matter where those people are from.”

Chevron Corporation is one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies. The company has about 58,000 employees, and Chevron’s subsidiaries conduct business in approximately 180 countries. Chevron operates across the entire energy spectrum – exploring for, producing and transporting crude oil and natural gas; refining, marketing and distributing fuels and other energy products; generating power; designing and marketing large-scale energy efficiency solutions; and commercializing the energy resources of the future, including biofuels and other renewables. Chevron is based in San Ramon, Calif.

Please visit http://www.chevron-weagree.com for more on the “We Agree” campaign. More information about Chevron is available at http://www.chevron.com.

At this point, some people other than me were bound to have uncovered the ruse, but rather than making a big deal of it, I chose to keep quiet and let things take their course: what is the point of supporting something if you’re going to uncover it in public in the same breathe? I also wanted to think that this wasn’t the work of the Yes Men.

A strange sentiment? Well, after popping back a quick note to the originators…

That is very clever – don’t worry, I won’t tell. But if you need any help then let me know. Good mask on the domain names too.

K.

…I noticed that this bore far more of a resemblance to the kinds of spoofs that I have been discussing on my blogs, and even (ahem!) carrying out myself. I really wanted this to be from at least a Yes Men spin-off, if not a completely independent entity, because it would mean that the PR companies and corporate killers were starting to lose control of things.

Later on in the day, it was becoming clear that the Yes Men were being fingered with the spoof, the spoof itself (partly “thanks” to various smartarse bloggers) having been exposed fairly quickly. Following this exposure period something happened which gave new legs to the action – another press release from “Chevron”:

From: Chevron Corp.
Sent: Monday, October 18, 2010 5:45 PM
To: keith-farnish.plus.com
Subject: STATEMENT: Chevron Deplores Subterfuge, Investigates Options


Chevron has added a news release to its Investor Relations website.

Title: Chevron Deplores Subterfuge, Investigates Options

Date(s): 18 October. 2010

For a complete listing of our news releases, please click here

Chevron Deplores Subterfuge, Investigates Options

SAN RAMON, Calif., Oct. 18, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Earlier today, a group of environmentalists cyber-posing as Chevron officials illegally spoofed Chevron’s just-launched “We Agree” advertising campaign, confusing reporters (link). While such a campaign does exist, its official URL is Chevron.com/weagree. The advertisements released earlier today, at Chevron-weagree.com, were an elaborate subterfuge and must not be mistaken as real.

“Chevron does not take this attack lightly,” said Hewitt Pate, General Counsel for Chevron. “We invest extremely heavily in our campaigns, and we take them extremely seriously. Such actions can never be tolerated.” Though the exact cost of “We Agree” must remain confidential, Chevron routinely spends $90 million per year on US advertising alone.

Pate also noted that the environmentalists have made libellous allegations regarding Chevron’s record and obligations in Ecuador and beyond. “Despite what some will say, we are not obliged to abide by decisions that Ecuadorian judges make or do not make. This is because we have binding agreements with the Ecuadorian Government exempting us from any liabilities whatsoever, granted in exchange for a $40 million cleanup of some wells by Texaco in the 1990s.”

“We have always upheld the best values of every country to which we are attached,” added Pate.

“This hoax is part of an ongoing effort to blame Chevron for 18 billion gallons of toxic waste dumped in the Amazon during drilling operations,” said Rhonda Zygocki, Chevron vice president of Policy, Government and Public Affairs. “This blame game continues despite Chevron’s long-standing agreement with the Ecuadorian government which very obviously puts the issue behind us.”

For further information please visit Chevron’s official press page. For more information about Chevron please visit www.Chevron.com.

What was going on here was an attempt to inject some confusion into the story, by using a fake press release site to disseminate fake anger at a real spoof, while also adding fuel to the fire of Chevron’s abuses in South America.

Again, I fired off a quick response, and then kept schtum:

Oh, that’s wonderful. Slight coding error on the website (“stories” and “global issue”s toplinks are broken) but otherwise a brilliant bit of “heading them off at the pass” just as people realise it was a hoax. *I’m* not convinced you’re the Yes Men, though

Keith

I didn’t get a response, as responding in the affirmative is something you should never do when trying to cover your tracks, but they did fix the links – someone was on the ball here.

Someone at Business Week clearly wasn’t on the ball, as their article the next day clearly attests to. They may have been taken in by the further fakery related to Advertising Age, for not only was the Chevron site a fake, there was a fake AdAge web site to boot, something that is recorded in some detail by the real Advertising Age:

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — First BP was targeted with a satirical Twitter feed, and now oil giant Chevron has been hit by pranksters hijacking its corporate-public-relations efforts. While the prank may go unnoticed by consumers, it does raise issues for both marketers and media.

The hoax that Chevron is now grappling with is far more elaborate and is timed to the launch of an ad campaign from the San Ramon, Calif.-based company and its lead agency, Dentsu-owned McGarryBowen.

Not only was a fake website created that parodied the real campaign, but fake press releases were sent out, including one posted to a site that looks remarkably similar to Chevron’s actual website. That release uses fake quotes by Rhonda Zygocki, Chevron’s VP-policy, government and public affairs, and Gordon Bowen, chief creative officer of McGarryBowen.

As part of the prank, there was even a fake story planted on a fake Ad Age site. Ad Age received calls Monday morning from someone purporting to be a Chevron spokesperson saying an erroneous story was posted to the AdAge.com. While the story looked real — the masthead and frames were swiped from a Marketer of the Year story posted to AdAge.com and the text was replaced with a Chevron story — the URL was a fake, one that misspelled the “advertising” in advertisingage.com (and there was no byline on the piece).

So that is that, it seems. The story has all but blown over and, with more irony that a professor of linguistics could muster, Chevron’s latest press release is trumpeting a new attempt at large-scale deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

But that is not that!

It doesn’t take a computer genius or expert in public relations to dream up and execute something that could do great damage to a company or even an entire government; something I will be writing about at length in my new book. People who follow my writing may have come across this article on The Sietch a couple of years ago. You will have to take my word for it that at least three more spoofs have been carried out in three entirely different ways since then, with varying success.

And I am just one person.

What about you?

Posted in Advice, Exposure, Good News!, Spoofs, Subvertising | No Comments »

10 Things That Will Actually Make a Difference On 10/10/10 (and Any Other Day)

Posted by keith on 5th October 2010

As I write, thousands of activities are being planned around the world to coincide with the date 10 October 2010, which has been fortuitously chosen for its parallels with the aim to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 10% by the end of 2010 (well that’s one plan blown, then).

Anyone on any mailing list of any mainstream “environmental” group will, in the last month or so, received at least one email and/or letter, imploring you to take part in some event that demonstrates your willingness to be part of a great movement for “change”. I put that last set of quotes in on purpose, because I too received an email from 350.org:

Dear Friends,

I don’t quite believe it.

I’ve been double-checking our numbers, and it’s beginning to look like we might shoot past the total of events from last year’s International Day of Climate Action. As I type this message, the counter is at 5203 events.

You might remember that there were 5248 events in 181 countries last year, and you can watch the compilation video from that day for a reminder of just how beautiful it was. And how massive it was: CNN said that it was “most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.” I was worried we couldn’t top that for the Global Work Party on 10/10/10–in part because “experts” kept saying people were too discouraged after the failure of the UN climate talks in Copenhagen.

But it’s looking like “experts” were wrong, and this movement is more energized than ever. When we see our leaders failing, we want to show them how it’s done. We want to get to work. We’ll let you know the minute we set a new record–you could help by emailing friends far and near to encourage them to take part.

And in case you needed a tiny bit more motivation to spread the word, this video just arrived from a friend of ours–Ellen Page.

Ellen is not only a great actress (you may have seen her in “Inception” or “Juno”), she’s also a devoted student of permaculture and sustainability. She wrote me the other day to say that Los Angeles had just set a new all-time temperature record, 113 degrees. From Los Angeles to Laos, it seems that we’re all in this together.

We’ll be in touch soon, but I have the feeling the next bit of news I send will be very, very good indeed.

Onwards,

Bill McKibben for the 350.org Team

Regular readers will remember the last big event that 350.org organised; the one Bill proudly quotes as being called, the “most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.” Not that we would want to make comparisons with, say, the No War For Oil protests in 2003 (around 2 million participants in the UK alone, in dozens of separate marches), but I think it’s a pretty good comparison if hyperbole is what Bill McKibben wants: one day of mass “action” across the globe, a real feeling of genuine achievement amongst the participants…and absolutely nothing achieved.

The war took place.

The emissions continued.

I responded to Bill, obviously knowing that my email would get nowhere near him:

Well, that’s nice Bill. And what has 350.org achieved so far – and what is it likely to achieve? I’m talking real change not number of events, banners, signatures, petitions, participants…whatever – I’m talking real change.

Please enlighten me.

Keith

The response was surprisingly quick, and from one of the senior people in the 350.org office:

Keith,

What does real change look like to you?

Thanks,

Phil Aroneanu

This was actually a very good question – what does real change look like? I thought for a while what appearance real change would take, and it became clear that, like the act of Undermining, Change (with a big “C”) invited nothing symbolic. It is something that fits into a neat progression towards humanity having a survivable future on Earth. Here is my response, highlighted, as I think this is critical.

Hi Phil

Success is:

- Atmospheric greenhouse gas levels back to pre-industrial levels (280ppm CO2e)

- All global ecological biomes functioning at full efficiency

- All synthetic chemicals removed from biosphere

- Species extinction and evolution rates returned to pre-civilized levels

Anything between the current situation and “Success” can be considered “Progress”; the process of achieving that is “Change”.

Change and progress are tangible. Action is not.

Why celebrate anything that is not tangible?

Makes sense to me.

Keith

The conversation continued, with Phil clearly not having understood the gravity of our current situation; nor the massive gulf between the symbolic level of 350.org’s goals and Bill’s celebration, and that which I stated above.

Keith –

Still unclear why people planting trees, painting bike lanes, installing solar panels…etc. on 10/10/10 alongside citizen lobbying isn’t action towards reducing CO2?

Phil

Because tangible progress towards the things I stated below has not been achieved.

As I said, action does not equal change.

Keith

No response was forthcoming, but rather than let this disappear into the ether as another lost opportunity to connect, I am being completely mercenary and hitching something onto the back of so-called 10/10/10 by giving you 10 things you can do any day of any year (until, perhaps, they are no longer needed) and really make a tangible difference:

1) Deface and tear down or otherwise remove commercial advertising.

2) Start paying for things, and offering the things you might sell, by barter.

3) Send fake press releases to newspapers and radio stations telling the truth about corporate activities.

4) Switch off televisions in public places, remotely if you have to.

5) Set up a knowledge sharing scheme in your community to counter pro-consumer schooling.

6) Cook something fresh or make something from scratch and give it to a neighbour or friend, unbidden.

7) Make a nuisance of yourself whenever you see a politician being interviewed.

8) Relabel museum exhibits to reflect the true history of Empire, Colonialism and Exploitation.

9) Lock up already locked retail premises and car parks with your own chains.

10) Start a meme using the words “Economic growth is ecological death” by any means possible.

And that’s just ten things; there are many more here and here. Have a great time, but don’t restrict your fun to just the one day – real activists are always active, not just when we are told to be.

Posted in Exposure, Sabotage, Spoofs, Subvertising | 4 Comments »