Category Archives: the yes men

>No, GE Won’t Repay Its Tax Break

>The Associated Press got punk’d by the Yes Men and U.S. Uncut:

The Associated Press published a story based on a fake email press release that said General Electric would respond to criticism over the amount of taxes it avoids by repaying its entire $3.2 billion tax refund for 2010 to the U.S. Treasury Department. Both the press release and AP’s story said GE would repay its tax refund on April 18, that the company would phase out its tax havens over five years and start providing one job in the U.S. for every new job it creates overseas. The hoax release quoted GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt as saying, “All seven of our foreign tax havens are entirely legal … but Americans have made it clear that they deplore laws that enable tax avoidance. While we owe it to our shareholders to use every legal loophole to maximize returns — we also owe something to the American people. We didn’t write the laws that let us legally avoid paying taxes. Congress did. But we benefit from those laws, and now we’d like to share those benefits. We are proud to be giving something back to America, and we are proud to set an example for all industry to follow.” President Obama appointed Immelt as chairman of his outside panel of economic advisers on January 21, 2011. AP failed to verify the information in the release and withdrew its story 35 minutes after its publication. Two groups took responsibility for the hoax: the Yes Men and U.S. Uncut, saying they did it to raise awareness of U.S. corporate tax policy.

In its rush to be first, AP didn’t even bother to verify what was so obviously a bogus story. That’s a major media fail, but of course the biggest fail of all is the corporate tax policy which allows companies like GE to dodge its obligation to America to begin with. I guess after they got busted for defrauding American taxpayers back in 1985 they just found a legal way to do it.

Meanwhile, the business press is not amused:

GE shares fell 1.6% from their preopen high. Not a huge move, but enough to briefly trim GE’s market capitalization by nearly $3.5 billion.

How much of that was caused by the Yes Men? On a morning when most other companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average were pretty flat, it’s tempting to think that at least some of GE’s pullback was the result of the hoax. We may never know, but there probably are several lawyers already looking into it, either on behalf of the company or its shareholders.

The episode is also cause for concern over at the Securities and Exchange Commission. One of that agency’s many tasks is to make sure people don’t manipulate share prices, and that includes issuing false statements about publicly traded companies.

It’s far from clear whether the SEC has the bandwidth to mount an investigation. But if you were hoodwinked into selling GE stock this morning, you’d appreciate it if the regulators at least gave the Yes Men a severe tongue lashing.

Really? There are people who would sell their shares of a stock when they learned a company was going to pay its fair share of taxes, phase out overseas tax havens, and provide as many jobs in the U.S. as it does overseas?

Seriously? That would cause investors to flee a stock? I’m thinking … no. I’m thinking MarketWatch writer Jim Jelter has fabricated a scenario he imagines existed. We’ll never know because he never quotes any actual angry, duped investors. But it’s a nice little bit of hippie punching, is it not? Can’t let those young kids muck around in the marketplace, got to keep ‘em in their place. The free hand of the market demands it.

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Filed under Associated Press, corporations, media, taxes, the yes men

>Punk’d

>[UPDATE]:

New York TImes covers the story.

———————————-

Hey James O’Keefe! Here’s how you punk the media:

If we had to get punked, we’re glad it was by the Yes Men, who have quite a track record of pulling really convincing stunts. Their slightly off URL, www.chevron-press.com, was a spitting-image spoof of the real www.chevron.com. Also, Yes Men hucksters clearly watch Mad Men as often as we do and were riding high from Don Draper’s nuclear-option “Why I’m Quitting Tobacco” letter in the New York Times.

Yes Men’s version involved an ad with a smiling elderly indigenous man wearing a bandana, with the words “OIL COMPANIES SHOULD CLEAN UP THEIR MESSES,” along with a red stamp that reads “We Agree”–followed by the signatures of Chevron higher-ups. The ad was supposed to be a reference to a years-long lawsuit in Ecuador, where Chevron is accused of being responsible for $27 billion of oil pollution clean-up costs. Chevron.com refers to the Ecuadorian lawsuit as “a meritless case”; according to the Christian Science Monitor , Chevron has taken out quarter-page newspaper ads with defensive headlines like “the fraud of the century.” Nevertheless, Ecuadorians appeared to be the heroes of Chevron’s new ad campaign. It was fake, we now know.

Well, don’t feel so bad: you weren’t alone! Advertising Age also fell for the hoax, as did AFP and some online energy journals.

Chevron is not amused:

SAN RAMON, Calif., Oct. 18, 2010 – Earlier today, a group of environmentalists cyber-posing as Chevron officials illegally spoofed Chevron’s just-launched “We Agree” advertising campaign. 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.”

See! That totally proves that they didn’t do anything wrong! Nothing whatsoever! Because Chevron cares! And they proved it by signing a binding agreement with the government of Ecuador to clean up some wells. Problem solved! Agree?

Last year the Yes Men punk’d the U.S. Chamber of Commerce by holding a fake press conference. In 2007 they posed as executives from ExxonMobil at an oil industry conference.

A Real Chevron Press Release. Accept No Substitutes.

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Filed under Big Oil, Chevron, the yes men

>U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Gets Punked

>Hey, Koch Industries! We libs can lie about who we are in front of the media, too! Except when we do it, we have way more panache:

Will the real U.S. Chamber of Commerce please stand up?

Environmental activists held a hoax press conference Monday morning, pretending to be the business group — and pretending to announce that the chamber was dropping its opposition to climate-change legislation now in Congress.

The event, complete with fake handouts on chamber letterhead, at least a couple of fake reporters, and a podium adorned with the chamber logo, broke up when a spokesman from the real chamber burst in.

Oh, noes! Who are these merry pranksters? Why the Yes Men, of course. They’ve punked all sorts of high-falutin’ folks, like the World Trade Organization, Dow Chemical, GO-EXPO, and more.

But Monday’s prank nearly errupted in fisticuffs as someone with the real Chamber of Commerce showed up to confront the imposters. But when reporters asked him the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s position on climate change, and if they believed it did not exist, he dodged the questions.

Watch the video:

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Filed under climate change bill, the yes men, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

>Oil: “It’s People! Agghh!”

>Those wacky Yes Men have struck again.

Mike and Andy, the artful activists known to wreak havoc on WTO meetings and the like have pulled a fast one on the Go-Expo energy confab in Calgary, Canada.

Posing as representatives from ExxonMobil and the National Petroleum Council, the two delivered the Go Expo keynote address today. And what a keynote! According to a Yes Men news release, the speech was supposed to deliver results of a long-awaited study commissioned by US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. Here’s what the oil execs got instead:

In the actual speech, the “NPC rep” announced that current U.S. and Canadian energy policies (notably the massive, carbon-intensive exploitation of Alberta’s oil sands, and the development of liquid coal) are increasing the chances of huge global calamities. But he reassured the audience that in the worst case scenario, the oil industry could “keep fuel flowing” by transforming the billions of people who die into oil.

“We need something like whales, but infinitely more abundant,” said “NPC rep” “Shepard Wolff” (actually Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men), before describing the technology used to render human flesh into a new Exxon oil product called Vivoleum. 3-D animations of the process brought it to life.

“Vivoleum works in perfect synergy with the continued expansion of fossil fuel production,” noted “Exxon rep” “Florian Osenberg” (Yes Man Mike Bonanno). “With more fossil fuels comes a greater chance of disaster, but that means more feedstock for Vivoleum. Fuel will continue to flow for those of us left.”

The oilmen listened to the lecture with attention, and then lit “commemorative candles” supposedly made of Vivoleum obtained from the flesh of an “Exxon janitor” who died as a result of cleaning up a toxic spill. The audience only reacted when the janitor, in a video tribute, announced that he wished to be transformed into candles after his death, and all became crystal-clear.

BWAAAHAAAAAAA!!!!!

According to a local news report, Go Expo attendees were not amused, especially since attendees paid $50 a head to hear a speech from what they thought were American energy policy bigwigs.

Neither Andy nor Mike were arrested, according to their news release, although they were tossed out of the event once the hoax became clear.

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Filed under environment, go expo, oil industry, the yes men